New pioneer center will pave the way for the green transition in agriculture

The Land-CRAFT research center aims to find solutions to how we can make the best possible use of agricultural land while simultaneously reducing our impact on biodiversity and the climate. The German top researcher Klaus Butterbach-Bahl will head the center, which is funded by five of Denmark’s largest foundations – including VILLUM FONDEN.

Denmark's pioneer centers

Land-CRAFT is the second in a number of pioneer centers initiated by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. Read more about the establishment of pioneer centers 

Food production accounts for a third of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) worldwide, and it will be necessary to produce food for even more people in future. However, increased food production entails an increase in GHG emissions, which is unsustainable for the health of the planet.

It was for this reason that the Pioneer Center for Landscape Research in Sustainable Agricultural Futures (Land-CRAFT) was established under the leadership of Professor Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, who has been recruited to Denmark from a position as head of the Department of Terrestrial Bio-Geo-Chemistry at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany.

Interdisciplinary efforts – global solutions

The pioneer center will work across the various disciplines and internationally to gain a better understanding of the interaction between agriculture and nature and to develop sustainable solutions:

Professor Klaus Butterbach-Bahl

“There is a strong need to integrate process knowledge on environmental impacts of agriculture with landscape management in order to support the required transformational change of the agriculture sector and to ensure its environmental sustainability. At the same time, it is necessary to enforce the adaptation to climate change to ensure food security. These challenges need to be addressed within a short-time period and calls for a center such as Land-CRAFT. Land-CRAFT represents a unique opportunity as it will identify and quantify the multiple environmental as well as socio-economic benefits associated with the change of agricultural practices at the farm and landscape scales, thereby having a specific focus on the climate imprint of agriculture,” says Klaus Butterbach-Bahl.

National pioneering initiative

The pioneer center is being established through a collaboration between Aarhus University and the University of Copenhagen as part of the national initiative to establish pioneer centers within key research areas:

“Agriculture is playing an important role in the green transition. With Klaus Butterbach-Bahl at the helm of Land-CRAFT, Denmark will now have an interdisciplinary centre at international top level, where researchers across the relevant disciplines are able to investigate the impact of agricultural production on the environment and climate and provide scientific data for the important discussions on the role of agriculture in future,” says Thomas Bjørnholm, Executive Chief Scientific Officer of VILLUM FONDEN.

The pioneer center is an initiative of the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science in close collaboration with the Danish National Research Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, VILLUM FONDEN as well as Aarhus University and the University of Copenhagen. The five foundations will grant max. DKK 240 million over the next 13 years to the centre. Of this, VILLUM FONDEN has granted DKK 41.5 million.

The center is based at the Department of Agroecology and the Department of Biology at Aarhus University.

Read more

At the center’s website:

Pioneer center Land-CRAFT 


Thomas Bjørnholm
Executive Chief Scientific Officer, professor, VILLUM FONDEN
+45 28 75 18 35


Professor Thomas Bjørnholm is responsible for the foundation’s research programmes in technical and natural sciences.
Previously Thomas Bjørnholm was Prorector for Research and Innovation and Deputy Rector at the University of Copenhagen with overall responsibility for research and innovation across all disciplines at the university.

He is a professor of Materials Chemistry and the founding director of the Nano-Science Center at the University of Copenhagen.

Thomas Bjørnholm is a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences and he has served on numerous boards and committees.

As a scientist, he has published more than 200 articles in scientific journals and books including contributions to the highly-recognized journals Nature and Science. He has given more than 150 invited talks at conferences and research institutes around the world and received research awards, including the Ole Rømer Foundation Award, the Ellen & Niels Bjerrum Award and gold medal, and the Director Ib Henriksen Award.

See more extensive CV