70174 Stuttgart, de
More than an Encyclopaedia for agriculture
(Stuttgart-Hohenheim) - The absence of a central platform for agricultural issues and the lack of specialist information on agricultural sciences prompted agricultural biologist Dr. Jörg Mehrtens to establish Proplanta seven years ago. The founder and managing director of Proplanta believes it is now impossible to imagine any area of scientific activity without the Internet. "Whether searching for literature or current publications, there is a demand not only from scientists but also from farmers, industry and consumers for up-to-date specialist information."
Proplanta has dedicated itself to providing independent information for the entire agricultural sector, ranging from conventional to eco farming. The portfolio includes the latest news, reports and online publications on all agricultural issues, information and tips on plant cultivation and pest control, cultivation statistics, useful data on crops, glossaries and dictionaries on agricultural terminology, an agricultural forum on interactive exchange of information, a notice board, jobs forum, photo archive and presentation options for companies and institutions. The user-friendly administration enables members to create and maintain content themselves; the functional information layout makes operation particularly easy.
Proplanta is currently focusing on the managing director¹s area of expertise, plant cultivation and pest control. Mehrtens, born in Karlsruhe, made a name for himself as a scientific project manager in maize weed monitoring throughout Germany for pesticide manufacturer Novartis, now Syngenta Agro GmbH. The project findings formed a key part of the work he carried out, with the support of Novartis, Bayer and BASF and for which he obtained his doctorate in August 2005 under Prof. Karl Hurle at the Institute for Phytomedicine at the University of Hohenheim, Germany. The work was awarded the DMK promotional prize for young scientists by the Deutsches Maiskomitee (German Maize Committee, DMK) in 2005.
Mehrtens saw his high profile in professional circles and his expertise in IT as an excellent platform for implementing the Proplanta concept and launching his own business. Together with agricultural biologist and journalist Dr. Swen Follak, he communicates specialist knowledge for non-specialists and experts alike. "Our specialist background enables us to skilfully handle the daily flood of information. Topicality and usefulness are our benchmark," says Mehrtens, who is not just backed by Innovation und Bildung Hohenheim GmbH (IBH). "BioRegio STERN Management GmbH was always on hand to provide help and advice."
Prospects for the independent agricultural forum are excellent. Mehrtens sees the current mood of change and new willingness to invest in the agricultural sector as a key opportunity. "EU expansion and sustainable raw materials create new markets - this is why Proplanta should not limit itself to Germany." In a first step, the portal will be translated into English; then, neighbouring EU countries will be targeted to create new sales and distribution channels. "In future, the Proplanta infopool will be fed through collaboration agreements with international universities and its areas of focus continually expanded," says Mehrtens. An online agricultural science journal is also planned.
First in the pipeline, however, is expansion of the central jobs forum for the entire agricultural sector - an issue that is particularly important for Mehrtens. "I know from personal experience how hard it is even for graduates of major universities to find a job in the agricultural sector. Together with industry and the public sector, Proplanta is looking to help strengthen Germany as a business location."
Mehrtens believes the opportunity for online publication is particularly important for the next generation to have its say early on: "Where is it easier to publish and discuss interesting research data or just interim results than on the Internet?" Trade magazines with their long preparation times are no match for this. To promote knowledge transfer in the long term, the portal operators have also set themselves the target of establishing the agricultural forum as a leading provider for issues concerning all aspects of agriculture. "Our aim is for Proplanta to become the new Encyclopaedia for agriculture," says Mehrtens.
Proplanta ("pro": for; "planta": plant) is an information centre and online marketplace for the agricultural sector. The portal has been providing market-oriented and up-to-date reports, industry data and background information at www.proplanta.de since 1 July 2006. Companies and institutions can also post a profile of themselves and their service spectrum online at Proplanta and list their products in catalogue form. Further services from Proplanta include consultancy for and coordination of projects and agricultural-science studies, data management and research, geostatic evaluations and support in writing technical articles. The managing director is Dr. Jörg Mehrtens.
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