Thomas Kliemt-Rippel won first place and the audience award at the Falling Walls Lab 2012 for his presentation “Breaking the Wall of Sustainable Farming”. He is a biodynamic farmer, advocate for land commons with the Kulturland-Genossenschaft, co-founder of the crowd investment platform OpenCrowdInvest and a lecturer in biodynamic farming education. His current work is focused on creating technical solutions and frameworks for community-funded farming projects. Last year we had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his career since his participation in Falling Walls Lab.
Mr. Kliemt-Rippel, let’s start off on a personal note. It’s been eight years since you competed in Falling Walls Lab. Is there a memory that still really stands out to you?
I still remember the moment when I was standing on the big stage and, right in the middle of my presentation, forgot what I wanted to say next. I paused for only two or three seconds, but it felt like an eternity.
If you were back on the Falling Walls Lab stage today, how would you describe the breakthrough potential of your current work?
I continued working on the larger problem of liquid animal manure as a product of modern animal husbandry, and I am still convinced today that next to global climate change this problem poses the most immediate threat to global biodiversity and overall ecological stability on our planet. It is not just a threat to ecosystems though, the Global Burden of Disease Study, a collaboration of over 3600 researchers from 145 countries, attributes up to 800,000 deaths per year globally to ammonia emissions from animal manure.
The problem is entirely solvable – my research, but also many other approaches show this very clearly. The problem is that positive externalities of alternative approaches to manure management are in no way financially rewarded, and farmers are already in a very difficult position financially. They cannot afford to implement these measures, even if the costs are relatively modest.