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Symposium marking the 150th birthday of Prof. Friedrich Falke, founder of grassland research

DLG Grassland and Forage Cropping Committee honours grassland and pasture researcher

7th July 2021 marked the 150th anniversary of Prof. Friedrich Falke's birth. Researchers, teachers, educators, advisers and of course farmers across Germany owe a lot to Friedrich Falke. Falke's achievements in the grassland and forage cropping sectors have been significant, most importantly in the field of grassland farming. 

In tribute to his merits, the 75th DLG Grassland and Forage Cropping Committee meeting was held as part of a Falke symposium. It included an excursion to the Saxony-Anhalt State Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture (LLG) in Iden, not far from Falke's birthplace in Schwarzholz, Germany.
In the spring of 1927, when Friedrich Falke, then Head of the DLG’s Arable Farming Division, invited 50 or so experts from 8 countries to the first Meeting of Pasture and Meadow Agriculturalists in Germany, he laid the groundwork for what would become the International Grassland Congress (IGC), a global scientific forum still in operation today.

During his tenure as Professor of Agriculture at the University of Leipzig, he devoted much of his time to an unusually broad scope of work—by today's standards—ranging from livestock breeding to crop cultivation, bridging the gap between issues related to animal husbandry and arable farming. As a result of his work, he was able to contribute a number of key findings towards the underlying potential for intensive pasture farming as part of an optimised grassland management strategy.

His own book, “Wiesen und Weiden” (Meadows and pastureland) is considered a seminal work today. His commitment as the editor of another seminal book, “Die Tierzuchtlehre” (The Science of Animal Breeding), secured him a lasting reputation for excellence as an agronomist, ranking him as one of Europe’s most prominent grassland researchers.

Falke's work for the DLG was similarly comprehensive until in 1919 he was appointed to manage the DLG Arable Farming Division, a function that he held until 1932. As part of this role, he established a Special Committee on meadows and pastureland in 1921, enabling him to highlight the critical importance of grassland farming in meeting the growing demand for animal products and replacing imported feed with home-grown fodder. 
The symposium will address each milestone of his career through contributions from various perspectives, highlighting the impact of his work on both a national and international stage as well as on a personal level.

The information on Falke’s biographical details are taken from both Pickert et al. (2021; article published in Bauernzeitung no. 23, on 11/06/21) and “Der Weiden-Falke, ein Altmärker” (Leineweber et al., 2020; ISBN: 978-3-347-04126-4).