Kim Karotki

Stu­dents and experts come tog­e­ther at workshop

Dia­lo­gue on equal terms

For some years now, Osna­brück Uni­ver­si­ty of App­lied Sci­en­ces and Klasmann-Deilmann have main­tai­ned a pro­duc­ti­ve rela­ti­ons­hip. It was in this con­nec­tion that Uni­ver­si­ty Pre­si­dent Pro­fes­sor Andre­as Bert­ram and Klasmann-Deilmann Mana­ging Direc­tor Moritz Böcking hit on the idea of hol­ding a joint work­shop for stu­dents of the uni­ver­si­ty and experts at the com­pa­ny. It took place on the sub­stra­te producer’s pre­mi­ses. In this inter­view, stu­dent Chris­ti­an Fre­richs, Klasmann-Deilmann’s Head of Human Resour­ces Bene­dikt Kossen and Eck­hard Schlü­ter from the Advi­so­ry Ser­vices divi­si­on spo­ke about the event.

Kim Karotki: Mr Fre­richs, what are you stu­dy­ing? And were you actual­ly fami­li­ar with Klasmann-Deilmann befo­re the workshop?

Chris­ti­an Fre­richs: I am stu­dy­ing agri­busi­ness and food indus­try manage­ment at Osna­brück Uni­ver­si­ty of App­lied Sci­ence, spe­cia­li­sing in the sub­jects Soil, Plant Nut­ri­ti­on and Crop Pro­tec­tion. My par­ti­cu­lar inte­rest is in hor­ti­cul­tu­re, in which substrates play a cru­cial role con­cer­ning the nut­ri­ti­on and phy­sio­lo­gy of plants. I have alrea­dy had con­ta­ct with Klasmann-Deilmann for stu­dent pro­jects and my Bachelor’s dis­ser­ta­ti­on. In 2015 I also recei­ved a grant under the public-pri­va­te Deutsch­land­sti­pen­di­um pro­gram­me, co-fun­ded by the sub­stra­te pro­du­cer. This work­shop gave me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get to know the com­pa­ny – and its local con­ta­ct per­sons – bet­ter on its very premises.

Kim Karotki: You were one of 30 or so peop­le atten­ding the work­shop. How were you recei­ved at Klasmann-Deilmann?

Fre­richs: Very posi­tively! First, by way of intro­duc­tion, talks were given about the deve­lo­p­ment of the sub­stra­te indus­try in recent deca­des and about topi­cal issu­es in this sec­tor. This initi­al part was con­clu­ded by a tour of the ope­ra­ti­ons at the Sedels­berg site.

Kim Karotki: Mr Schlü­ter, what did the work­shop cover after that?

Eck­hard Schlü­ter: The main focus was on inno­va­ti­on, and the con­text we cho­se for this the­me was the usa­ge of wood fib­re in gro­wing media. In two groups, dif­fe­rent topics – ‘alter­na­ti­ve sub­stra­te con­sti­tu­ents’ and ‘envi­ron­men­tal aspects of gro­wing media’ – were addres­sed. The rele­vant chal­len­ges that need to be con­si­de­red for any new ingre­dient were explo­red with regard to hor­ti­cul­tu­ral sui­ta­bi­li­ty, as well as eco­no­mic and envi­ron­men­tal con­si­de­ra­ti­ons. The stu­dents deve­lo­ped appro­pria­te solu­ti­ons. We also tal­ked about the signi­fi­can­ce of the food sec­tor at Klasmann-Deilmann: just over 40% of our pro­ducts play an important role in the cul­ti­va­ti­on of fruits, vege­ta­bles, herbs and edi­ble mushrooms. Few peop­le are awa­re of this.


Kim Karotki: How did the work­shop go down with the stu­dents, Mr Frerichs?

Fre­richs: I par­ti­cu­lar­ly lik­ed the open dia­lo­gue bet­ween the stu­dents and Klasmann-Deilmann’s Advi­so­ry Ser­vices divi­si­on. We dis­cus­sed the future of the sub­stra­te indus­try and the car­bon foot­print of various sub­stra­te con­sti­tu­ents, as well as which pro­ducts will be in demand and which raw mate­ri­als have poten­ti­al for use.

Kim Karotki: Mr Kossen, what was the thin­king behind hol­ding a workshop?

Bene­dikt Kossen: It is important to Klasmann-Deilmann to main­tain con­ta­ct with hig­her-edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons – espe­cial­ly Osna­brück Uni­ver­si­ty of App­lied Sci­ence – in the fiel­ds of com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tu­re, agri­cul­tu­re and fores­try. For hor­ti­cul­tu­ral gra­dua­tes with a Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree, the­re are attrac­ti­ve fiel­ds of acti­vi­ty in the gro­wing-media sec­tor. And we are now noti­cing incre­a­sing inte­rest from nort­hern Ger­ma­ny and the Ruhr area.

Kim Karotki: What did you take away with you from the inter­ac­tion at the workshop?

Kossen: We were able to help the par­ti­ci­pants get a grasp of the sub­stra­te industry’s signi­fi­can­ce, and we also bene­fi­ted our­sel­ves from pro­mi­sing con­ta­cts with the stu­dents. We are also inten­si­fy­ing con­ta­ct with the tea­ching staff who were also the­re. A very sti­mu­la­ting exchan­ge of ide­as took place.


Kim Karotki: And from the stu­dents’ per­spec­ti­ve, Mr Frerichs?

Fre­richs: This work­shop was high­ly moti­vat­ing, as the pro­fes­sio­nals con­duc­ted the dia­lo­gue with us on equal terms. This encou­ra­ged the youn­ger stu­dents, too, to make many inte­res­ting con­tri­bu­ti­ons on the envi­ron­men­tal aspects of substrates. We went home with the fee­ling that the sub­stra­te indus­try needs future qua­li­fied spe­cia­lists like us.

Kim Karotki: Mr Schlü­ter, was the work­shop a one-off event?

Schlü­ter: Well, it was cer­tain­ly a first – and, from our point of view, a suc­cess. The pro­fes­sors from Osna­brück are alrea­dy indi­ca­ting a desi­re to hold events of this kind every two years. In terms of con­tent, it fur­ther aug­ments the con­ven­tio­nal site tour that we have offe­red so far as part of a stu­dent excur­si­on; it has more the sta­tus of an short aca­de­mic cour­se. And, on top of this, both peat (as the main com­po­nent of substrates) and alter­na­ti­ve substrates pro­vi­de many the­ma­tic ide­as for inte­res­ting degree the­ses or prac­ti­cal voca­tio­nal projects.