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Professor becomes Secretary General of significant international organisation

Professor Lars J. Munkholm from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University has, after six years as Assistant Secretary General, taken over as Secretary General of ISTRO - International Soil Tillage Research Organization.

Photo: Bodil Pedersen


The International Soil Tillage Research Organization (ISTRO) is a professional organisation that aims to bring together researchers and research within soil science. ISTRO’s goals are:

  • to promote contacts among scientists undertaking research in soil tillage and field traffic and their relationship with the soil environment, land use and crop production,
  • to stimulate scientific research in the domain of soil tillage and related fields, and
  • to further the application of the results of such research into agricultural practice.

On 24 May this year, Lars J. Munkholm took over the role of the organisation's secretary general.

"I am very happy with the new title and role. ISTRO has actually played a big role in my professional life. I attended my very first ISTRO conference in Poland in 1997. That was before my PhD. In 2012, I joined the board, and my organizational work in ISTRO began,” says Lars J. Munkholm.

Committed for 12 years

After just two years as a non-executive board member, Lars J. Munkholm agreed to first six years as Assistant Secretary General and then another six years as Secretary General, so the appointment on 24 May did not come as a surprise for him. However, the excitement of taking over the important role was still big.

"It is a great honour to be Secretary General, and I very much look forward to getting started. We have a big task ahead of us, because ISTRO, like so much else, has been affected by the Covid-19 shutdowns of recent years. If an organisation like this is to thrive, it is all crucial that we can meet physically. That is why I am now putting all my efforts into getting our activities up and running again, and especially getting our next conference up and running,” he says.

The conference is scheduled for September 2024, and as early as the fall of this year, work will begin when the ISTRO Board, including the newly appointed Secretary General, meets in Virginia, USA, where the conference is to be held.

Promote research and collaboration

According to Lars J. Munkholm, ISTRO's purpose is to make the field of research grow, to bring together researchers with industry and consultants, so that new collaborations can arise.

“One example of this could be: Michelin was a sponsor at our most recent ISTRO conference (Paris 2018). Prior to the conference, a collaboration between researchers from the Department of Agroecology with Mathieu Lamandé and Loraine ten Damme at the helm and the tire manufacturer was established, and at the conference we were able to present the results from a project, where we had mapped how the historical development of tires has affected the soil,” Lars J. Munkholm recalls.

According to the new Secretary General, working in an organisation like ISTRO is time consuming but also very rewarding.

"Do not hold back from work in organisations such as ISTRO, it is definitely worth the time spend. I think it has been and still is very rewarding to put time and effort into an organisation like ISTRO. In terms of getting to know people, learning different cultures and ways of working, you really get a lot out of this kind of organisational work. It provides a whole lot of professionalism, and not least you develop good skills to cooperate across national borders and cultures," says Lars J. Munkholm, who is now looking forward to starting his work as Secretary General.

More information

Read more: You can read more about the International Soil Tillage Research Organization (ISTRO) on their website.

Contact: Professor Lars J. Munkholm, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Tel .: 25152716 or email: lars.munkholm@agro.au.dk