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Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Research for a better future

Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences

The FKBV UM Infrastructure Programme (hereafter: FKBV UM IP) includes two organisational units: the University Agricultural Centre (hereinafter: UM UAC) with associated equipment and laboratories and the Botanical Garden of the University of Maribor (hereinafter: BGUM).

UM UAC organisational unit with associated equipment and laboratories

The infrastructure comprises arable land, pastures, orchards, vineyards, woodland and a barn, where field research experiments are carried out. In addition to the test growing areas, the estate also includes experimental plantations for monitoring and selecting superior materials from the collections of vines, roses (stone fruit, bitterbrush), mulberries and elderberries. Genetic, physiological and agronomic research on the existing genetic resources of the fruit species that we are pooling into the collections gives us an insight into the gene pool of old fruit species that may carry interesting and highly useful agronomic traits, such as resistance to diseases, pests and stress. Breeding approaches (interspecific hybridisation) are aimed at genetic improvement, which is a priority objective of sustainable agriculture. The accompanying laboratories are dedicated to basic agricultural research. They include instruments to study the chemical analysis of trace elements and organic compounds in plant samples, study cells and microbes at the molecular level of proteins and DNA and to grow them under in vitro conditions. Research on the physiology of plant tissues is carried out here, and micropropagation of plant material is possible. The laboratories have the primary function of studying material and samples produced in experiments at UM UAC and BGUM.

Innovative activity

The infrastructure is designed for agricultural experiments under realistic environmental conditions. Climate change has been identified as one of the greatest threats to social peace and progress. Climate change is reflected not only in water quantity, but also in physiological changes in plants, the arrival of new pests and microbes, which together affect the quality, safety and quantity of crops, food and feed. The priority is to acquire new practical and fundamental knowledge that will allow the introduction of new improved crops and animal breeds in a changed environment due to the coming climate change. To this end, we are testing new agricultural practices. New practices include optimising the use of natural potentials (climatic conditions, soil, biodiversity, ecosystems), taking into account good agronomic and animal husbandry practices. We are looking for new technological approaches in the field of robotic cultivation, IoT sensors, drones and automation that will, at least in part, relieve human labour in the future and help make agricultural production more competitive and economical.

The aim is to produce quality and healthy food for the people of our society.

BGUM organisational unit

The infrastructure programme of the University Botanical Garden Unit (IP BGUM) serves as an environment for the needs of researchers at UM and beyond. We want it to become a platform and a testing ground for scientific research in the fields of botany, agronomy, horticulture, nature conservation, ecology and beyond. The work programme consists of several areas: conservation of plant diversity, educational activities, innovative activities, promotion of regional development and preservation of cultural heritage.

Conservation of plant diversity

The main task of the BGUM IP is to conserve, protect and research plant-related issues. This includes the intensive collection of endangered and protected plant species, medicinal plants, ornamental and forest plants, native and alien genotypes of fruit plants and vines, and interesting and potentially useful non-native species. The BGUM IP also includes a transparent system for the exchange of plant material and seeds within the ‘International Plant Exchange Network’ (IPEN). This activity allows it to facilitate the transfer of living plant material from home to the botanical garden, the exchange of plant material between registered botanical gardens, the transfer of plant material to unregistered gardens and other institutions, and ‘benefit-sharing’ (plant material used non-commercially for research purposes is donated to other institutions). There is now a permanent collection of seeds, which is being supplemented and renewed. Every two years, a new updated ‘Index Seminum’ is published online.

Educational activities

The Botanical Garden provides a supportive environment for higher education, professionally guided education and extra-curricular activities (school excursions, circles, science workshops), etc. The main aim of educational activities is to complement, deepen and broaden botanical knowledge.

Innovative activity

Innovation has become an important activity of the Botanical Garden in recent years. This includes, in particular, innovations related to testing, evaluation and optimisation of propagation methods (‘in vitro’ and ‘in vivo’) of native and non-native plant species, certain interspecific and intrageneric hybrids, and tropical and subtropical crops that could become potential new crops or vegetables in our country.

Promoting regional development and the conservation of cultural heritage

The BGUM plays an important role in regional development and in nature-friendly forms of modern tourism in the region (the garden receives around 10 000 visitors a year). It cooperates with numerous other institutions in this field. The BGUM is also active in the field of cultural heritage conservation, as part of the garden is located on the site of an important part of a large Iron Age burial mound dating back more than 2600 years. This important archaeological heritage, which is of great importance for the university and the entire region, is accessible to visitors through the Archaeological Park.