Mowing workshop

Mowing workshop: Mowing in an insect-friendly way - but how?

At the 19th and 20th of September 2022 our mowing workshop took place at the Jagdschloss Kranichstein.

Over the course of two days, we exchanged views with stakeholders from research and practice on the possibilities and limitations of insect-friendly mowing.

A summary of the workshop can be found here in our conference proceedings:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for your active participation in our mowing workshop and the great presentations by the speakers!
The interesting presentations and exciting discussions provided new insights into this complex topic and provided a lot of information. Above all, they have shown the importance of research and simultaneous exchange with practice to jointly promote insects and spiders in the open country!

A special thanks also goes to the three mower manufacturers who were at our mowing workshop: BB Umwelttechnik, Müthing and Kersten Maschinenfabrik. It was very exciting to learn more about their technology and discuss it. We hope to continue to work together for a more insect-friendly mowing technique in the future.

The trade journal KommunalTechnik also published an interesting article on the results of our mowing workshop in the 6th issue 2022. You can find the complete issue here.

And you can check out the article here:

Do you have questions or need more information? Then please feel free to contact us:
Phone: 06151/16 20049

The lectures:

BioDivKultur & TU Darmstadt:
Prof. Dr. Nico Blüthgen

“The higher the vegetation, the more individuals”.

Prof. Dr. Nico Blüthgen is project leader of the BioDivKultur project and gave introductory lectures on both workshop days about insect decline, showed own scientific results and the influence of mowing on insects. He began his presentations by showing the fascinating diversity of insects through his own macro images, which he regularly uploads to iNaturalist. Also, Nico Blüthgen explained that the impact of mowing is different on meadow inhabitants (ex. grasshopper) than on meadow visitors (ex. pollinators like butterflies). On the second mahworkshop day, Nico Blüthgen gave a reference to the study Seibold et al. (2019) on insect declines and the relationship to land use intensity( In addition to the demonstrated decline in species and individuals of insects, it was also evident that the presence of a lot of cropland had an even greater negative impact on grassland inhabitants. The results provide opportunities for action, such as understanding the landscape as a whole with edge structures.

Merkle & Partner:
Mona Merkle and Dr. Siegbert Merkle

“53% increase in plant species due to introduction of flowering plants and strip mowing.”

Mona Merkle and Dr. Siegbert Merkle presented the biodiversity concept of their own company. Siegbert Merkle forcefully pointed out the harmfulness of mulchers and presented practical reports on their support of municipalities in the maintenance of green spaces. The company manages 70 hectares in a total of 11 municipalities with its own maintenance teams. Here they try to establish a biodiversity-friendly mowing. According to Dr. Siegbert Merkle, there is no lack of concepts, knowledge or good ideas within the municipalities, but rather a lack of implementation. Capacities or even the right equipment are missing here.

Green Space Office of the Science City Darmstadt:
Anke Bosch

“Flail mowers are useful against blackberries and rubies”.

Anke Bosch is the head of the Green Space Office of the Science City Darmstadt. She reported extensively from the field. She relied on the open ears and interest of her employees and told them about the changeover to insect-friendly mowing. The city wants to extensify more and more areas and is already doing so, but many other aspects must be taken into account during implementation: Acceptance of the citizens (partial extensification by means of banks/acceptance strips), finding a solution for the remaining cuttings, time expenditure (e.g. maintenance of the bar mower), contracting, etc.

bauverein AG:
Yvonne Gauff

The unmowed areas never led to complaints from the tenants.

Housing associations have many green spaces in their hands. Yvonne Gauff reported from practical projects carried out by bauverein AG in Darmstadt to promote biodiversity. The appearance of the areas was never a subject of complaint for the tenants. One particularly successful project is the extensification of land at Postsiedlung e.V. in Darmstadt( Here we try to get a balance between meadow areas and a neat, well-kept image in green areas. The 2020 project is shaping up to be a complete success: the meadow is staying, there has been extensive communication, and it was a nice, positive start for more biodiverse areas at bauverein AG.

Dr. Matthias Nuß

“Structural diversity creates insect diversity, especially also through grazing.”

Dr. Matthias Nuß is a butterfly specialist and works at the Senckenberg Institute in Dresden. He gave two exciting presentations on the two workshop days on insect-friendly mowing and old grass strips as a conservation measure. “Structural diversity creates insect diversity, especially also through grazing,” Dr. Matthias Nuß reported on the butterfly meadow project in Saxony. A simple and effective first measure can be to leave 30% old grass strips even through the winter. Furthermore, he pleaded for early mowing. There was another interesting piece of information on the second day: the butterfly (translated from German but see small skipper) brown-colored brown dickhead used to be called the corn fox. The former name paints a different picture. Here, not only habitat but also knowledge about species is lost from one generation to the next.

Dr. Philipp Unterweger

„Sinneswandel statt Samenhandel“ (Change of mind instead of seed trade)

Dr. Philipp Unterweger is a biodiversity planner and consultant. He gave two exciting lectures on both workshop days and presented, among other things, the “mowing concept according to Unterweger”. Under the motto “Diversity is important for diversity”, he is not only concerned with mowing, but also with commons structures in the city. He pleaded for: “change of mind instead of seed trade”. On the second workshop day on agricultural mowing, a lively discussion arose around Dr. Philipp Unterweger’s example and conclusion: mowing, turning, swathing, and loading means about 69 tons of fleet weight on the meadow. In contrast, there used to be only two horses. He pleads for an honest contemporary transformation: “reduce, ecologize, compensate”.

Anke Pavlicek

“The company premises should be a space close to the city for people and nature”

Anke Pavlicek reported on the green spaces around the Alnatura headquarters in Darmstadt and the challenges with a large company site. The site aims to be an urban space for people and nature. The Alnatura headquarters therefore has a cultural, social, ecological (building, use of rainwater, building materials, species-rich outdoor area, …) and economic (economical and simply built) concept. Among other things, there is a utility lawn around the building, a wildflower meadow (mowed 1 time a year) and an extensive rough pasture without mowing, natural habitat for sand lizards, wild insects and rare dry grassland plants (no mowing).

Insect-friendly Günztal:
Stefan Schütz and Deniz Uzman

Crucial measures are the gentle grassland technique and the gentle grassland management

Stefan Schütz and Deniz Uzman presented their project Insect-friendly Günztal on the second workshop day. “We want to build 100 microhabitat islands, consisting of fallow, dead wood, wetland, flower meadow, nesting mound,” said Stefan Schütz of Insect-friendly Günztal. The goal of the project is to create or connect 50 acres of new biotope connectivity areas. They use double-blade mowers, change the mowing regime, leave strips of old grass and focus on extensification.

Deniz Uzman then presented a poster on her mowing experiments this year. Here, they are investigating the influence of double-blade mowers and rotary mowers on grasshoppers. For scientific support, the project cooperates with the University of Osnabrück and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

Lea von Berg and Jonas Frank

The disc mower is currently the most widely used in agriculture.

For this reason, the InsectMow project starts precisely here. Lea von Berg presented research on the development of a modified disc mower that is gentler on insects. The new mower is designed to have reduced to no suction effect on meadow dwellers and is being developed in collaboration between scientists from ecology and agricultural engineering. Next year, the technology will be tested and evaluated for the first time.

Farmer, agricultural machinery mechanic & LPV Groß-Gerau :
Horst Müller

“There’s a lot of will in agriculture to implement new things, but the policy framework has to be right.”

Horst Müller is a farmer and agricultural machinery mechanic and talked about his practical experience. There are many hurdles and difficulties in agriculture that also hinder insect-friendly farming. Among other things, farmers have been made to grow larger and larger in recent decades. Some now regret this and are not economically better off after the enlargement. A lot of it is in our politics. The points mentioned by the previous speakers must be implemented in politics. There is a lot of will in agriculture to implement new things, but the political framework has to be right.

Presentation of the mowing equipment:

Kersten Maschinenfabrik:

Kersten Maschinenfabrik is a specialist agricultural machinery company founded in 1918, specializing in ecological mowing technology and mechanical engineering for agricultural and municipal machinery. Especially they are specialized in double-blade mowing technology. Georg Kersten is the current fourth-generation business owner of the family-owned company and showcased some of his double-blade mowers.

Müthing GmbH & Co. KG:

Müthing GmbH & Co. KG is one of the leading suppliers of mulching technology in Europe. The family business has now been in existence for over 120 years in what is now the fourth generation. The company wants to develop more insect-friendly mulchers with the help of Y-blades, a pre-mounted insect rescuer and a working height of up to 11 cm. At our mowing workshop, they presented different equipment.

BB-Umwelttechnik GmbH:

BB-Umwelttechnik GmbH is a young innovative company that manufactures comb rakes and double blade mowers. BB Umwelttechnik demonstrated how fast and effective a beam mower can be with a demonstration of the nine-meter-wide Butterfly double-blade mower.

The BioDivKultur project is funded by the Research Initiative for Biodiversity Conservation of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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