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InsuranceGrass Retreat in Leipzig

by Julia Kunkel

Group picture at iDiv

This year, the InsuranceGrass retreat took place in Leipzig on March 14 and 15. We hosted one day at the UFZ, while the other day was spent at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). Within the interdisciplinary InsuranceGrass project, we assess formal, social and natural insurance options to cope with droughts in grassland together with partners from iDiv and ETH Zürich. Like last year, we started the retreat with presentations from all work packages to update each other on the current state. For our work package, Jonathan, who is currently supporting Birgit and Julia in the project, presented the hay market model he developed during his internship at UFZ.

After lunch, our project partner Robert Finger (ETH Zürich) gave a talk on “Digital Innovations for Sustainable Agriculture”, to which we also invited other colleagues from the UFZ. The afternoon was dedicated to the topic of community-supported agriculture, i.e. farms that share their harvest with members in return for a fixed fee, independent of the actual harvest. This can act as a social insurance for farmers as they receive a stable income also during shocks. To assess how much consumers are willing to pay for such a share of the harvest and how much volatility they accept, our project partner Sophie Harzer will conduct a discrete choice experiment with (potential) members of CSAs. After she presented the current design of the experiment, Julia talked about how CSAs can increase farmer’s resilience to shocks, and the group discussed possible lines of research in this context.

On the second morning, we worked on a joint paper, that will bring together the different perspectives from our work packages by placing them in the context of how to improve the resilience of grasslands to shocks. We then reflected on the current state of the project and discussed possible follow-up projects after the end of InsuranceGrass in March 2025. In the afternoon, the PhD students met again to informally discuss their theses and conclude the meeting. Overall, we had a very productive meeting, but also found some time to explore Leipzig with a small city tour guided by Birgit and nice conversations during dinner at the Moritzbastei and the Indian Crown.

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