The Wilhelm-Rimpau-Prize, which bears the name of Wilhelm Rimpau, the father of German plant and cereal breeding, is a prize awarded by the DLG (German Agricultural Society) to promote young talents. The prize targets innovative and practically relevant bachelor's and master's theses in plant and crop production. In the spirit of Wilhelm Rimpau, the theses should pursue the goal of bringing progress to agriculture. From all applications received, the best three theses are traditionally selected by a DLG expert jury and awarded during the DLG Field Days.
In accordance with the DLG Field Days schedule, the Wilhelm-Rimpau-Prize is tendered and awarded every two years.
The following prizes can be won:
- 1st prize - 2.000 €
- 2nd prize - 1.500 €
- 3rd prize - 1.000 €
The Wilhelm-Rimpau-Prize honors innovative and practically relevant bachelor's and master's theses in plant and crop production. Rimpau's goal was to bring progress to agriculture. The theses should also follow this goal. They should stand out for their innovation in crop production and their practical relevance.
Wilhelm Rimpau (1842-1903) is one of the greatest agricultural pioneers of the second half of the 19th century. He is not only the father of German plant and cereal breeding and one of the greatest promoters of agriculture, but was also a very educated scientist who always felt committed to the general public.
Childhood and education
Arnold Wilhelm Rimpau was born on the 29th of August in 1842 in Schlanstedt as the son of the domain tenant and Privy Councillor August Wilhelm Rimpau, who introduced him to the agricultural profession at an early age. Wilhelm Rimpau studied in Bonn and Berlin under Julius Sachs and Georg Hanssen which further increased his interest in the study and observation of nature. This interest accompanied him throughout his later life.
Merits to plant breeding
Wilhelm Rimpau was the first to systematically observe and describe the flowering process of cereals, thus laying the foundations for his successful crosses in wheat and barley. Further research results of Rimpau were to interpret the shooting of beets as a physiological process, to prove dichogamy in beets, to clarify the involvement of insects in pollination and to reveal relationships between annual weathering and yield.
Like hardly anyone else, Rimpau combined a thorough education in the natural sciences with a practical eye and also possessed immense stamina. He began his first plant breeding studies and practical trials in 1867. His efforts were initially directed at improving the breeding of rye, which was later reflected in the well-known "Schlanstedt Rye.
Subsequently, Wilhelm Rimpau's work opened up the prospect of systematic breeding improvement of crops for the first time. From 1875 onward, Rimpau carried out systematic and targeted crossbreeding with the first wheat bastardizations. In wheat, for example, he sought to combine the good yield properties of English square-head varieties with the winter hardiness and better grain quality of German and American landraces. The most important breeding result was "Rimpaus early bastard" in 1889. For 50 years, this oldest German wheat variety was one of the leading German breeding varieties; it has served as a valuable genetic starting point for a number of new varieties which are still in existence today.
Rimpau went on to produce the first fertile generic bastard between rye and wheat, the basis of today's triticale varieties, in 1888. This outstanding achievement brought him international recognition and importance. It is also noteworthy that Wilhelm Rimpau had discovered the appearance of uniformity of F1 bastards, the diversity in the F2 generation and the free combinability of traits in his own experiments long before the rediscovery of Mendel's rules and had recognized their usefulness for plant breeding.
Breeding for improvement and selection
Rimpau's efforts were directed not only to obtaining new forms by crossing and bastardization, but also to breeding for improvement and selection. Breeding results of this continuous selection were the already mentioned "Schlanstedt Rye", a thick-headed wheat 1890 from English square-head, furthermore the well-known “Red Schlanstedt spring wheat” (1889), which became the starting variety of all Bordeaux breeds, a “Hanna-Barley” (1890) and finally Rimpau's sugar beet “Z” in 1898.
Wilhelm Rimpau was not only a plant breeder, but also an arable farmer, animal breeder and business manager who was open to agricultural progress in all areas. For example, he promoted the introduction of steam plow cultivation. Rimpau was the first to introduce vaccination against the lung disease in cattle on his farms, propagated the awarding and selection of bulls and carried out experiments on appropriate feeding.
Services to the DLG / German Agricultural Society
In 1885, Wilhelm Rimpau, Max Eyth, Dr. Hugo Thiel, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and a few others founded the DLG as a self-help organization by farmers for farmers, with the aim of promoting progress in agriculture. From that time on, Rimpau was one of the most zealous promoters of the society. He was significantly relevant in establishing the seed breeding department. For example, Rimpau introduced the variety testing system, and the first draft of the "High Breeding Register of the DLG" also came from him. In addition, Rimpau was active in other areas of the DLG until the end of his life. Rimpau belonged to the agricultural elite of the 19th century that recognized the possibility of applying the tools and methods offered by science and technology to agriculture. He was of the opinion that self-help was preferable to the call for state support and subsidies. Because Wilhelm Rimpau saw it as his duty to serve the community with his knowledge and skills, he approached agricultural social problems with an open-mindedness that was rare at the time. Another of his remarkable traits was his striking modesty.
In 1887, Rimpau was appointed a counselor, and in 1894 the philosophical faculty of Halle awarded him the degree of Dr. h.c.. During his life, Rimpau published 135 scientific papers. With his research work, Rimpau created the decisive foundations for systematic plant breeding as an independent discipline.
On the 20th of May in1903 Wilhelm Rimpau died in Woltersdorf (Pomerania). To this day, his legacy is carried on by his great-grandson Jürgen Rimpau on Wilhelm Rimpau's farm in Langenstein. His breeding legacy is preserved in the NORDSAAT Saatzuchtgesellschaft mbH in Böhneshausen.
Sources: Günther Franz und Heinz Haushofer, 1970: Große Landwirte. DLG Verlag, Frankfurt
Sonderausdruck aus „Zeitschrift für Pflanzenzüchtung“, Band 32, Heft 3 (1953)