News Agriculture, Environment, Forestry

Aleksi Lehtonen and Matti Pastell, Doctors of Science (Agriculture and Forestry), have been appointed in five-year tenure-track positions of associate professors at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), starting from 1 June 2018. Lehtonen specialises in the carbon cycle in forest bioeconomy, while Pastell focuses on the study of future agricultural technologies.

The research field led by Aleksi Lehtonen focuses on modelling biomass production, the decomposition of biomass and the mitigation of climate change in forest ecosystems, particularly in temperate and boreal climates. Key goals include the optimal management of biomass, in which the impact of climate change and the role of terrestrial ecosystems as carbon sinks, stocks and raw materials are in balance.

The research field led by Matti Pastell focuses on identifying, processing, modelling and automating big data in agricultural systems. The particular goal is to develop competitive concepts for future agricultural systems that use new technological solutions.

Lehtonen strengthens Luke’s position in climate change dialogue through his expertise

Aleksi Lehtonen. Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Luke.

Aleksi Lehtonen has studied and developed calculation methods for evaluating the greenhouse gas exchange in forests, specialising in soil modelling and uncertainties. Lehtonen is also an expert in assessing the climate impact of forest scenarios and acts as a lead author of the guidelines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Open geographic information material and ecosystem models allow us, already at present, to analyse interaction between ecosystems and the atmosphere at forest compartment level. Using this information, we can target actions to mitigate climate change, correctly and as cost-efficiently as possible”, Lehtonen says. He also sees that Luke plays a central part in producing data on ecosystems and processing them by means of modelling.

Matti Pastell is excited about the use of technology in agriculture

Matti Pastell. Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Luke.

Matti Pastell has solid expertise in developing automated measurement methods for animal behaviour and physiology. He also has broad experience in the automated identification of problems in animal health by means of time series analyses and machine learning methods. According to Pastell, technologies play an important part in developing even more sustainable production systems.

“Luke must be able to find the best applications where technologies can be used. This requires close cooperation between technological, biological and financial research. I am interested in using even more extensive material in supporting decision-making systems, combine biological data with data produced by sensors in modelling and use artificial intelligence in agriculture”, Pastell says.

The task of an assistant professor is, in their area of research, to strengthen Luke’s international scientific visibility, build strong networks with international partners and increase Luke’s substantial international project portfolio in the specific field.