Nature lovers observed and reported the panicle development of orchard grass and the blossom of elderberries and, thus, help farmers to mow flexibly according to nature's calendar.

elderberry, orchard grass, observation

The project overview

Area of Science: Natural Sciences
Location: independent of location
Used Devices: without PC/Mobile, with PC/Mobile
Equipment of citizen scientists: Smartphone or computer and digital camera
Activities of citizen scientists: observing, measuring, photographing, mapping
Suitable for: Youngsters and adults
Project duration: 01.05.2018 - 30.06.2018
Time to join in: 01.05.2018 - 30.06.2018
Expenditure of time: Observing, taking pictures and reporting the observations of elderberry and orchard grass, minimum 5 min

Project objective

With double the speed of the world's average, the mean annual temperature in the alpine space rose within the last 100 years by approximately 1.8°C. As a result, spring and the first bloom tend to take event earlier and earlier and also meadows are ready for mowing earlier. In order to allow farmers mow flexibly according to nature's calendar, a project was started. With the project "Mähen nach dem Naturkalender" farmers can, based on a computer model, adapt their mowing time especially in years with an early nature development. The mowing dates are published on the website Up until now the computer model is based on farmers’ observations on the panicle development of orchard grass and the bloom of black elderberry. To ensure more accuracy for mowing many hundred observations in all regions and altitudes of Austria are needed.

In the course of the Citizen Science Award, this project wanted to make people enthusiastic about observing and reporting the panicle development of orchard grass and the blossom of elderberry with the smartphone-app “Naturkalender ZAMG”. The observers not only provided valuable scientific contributions for the densification of the observation network, but also helped thousands of farmers all over Austria to mow flexibly according to nature's calendar and therefore retain the colourful species diversity of Austrian meadows.

How did citizen scientists participate?

With the smartphone-app “Naturkalender-ZAMG” observations of orchard grass panicle development and elderberry blossom could be reported easily. The minimum distance of observations is 500m. Incidentally other plants could be observed as well. All information can be found at

What happened to the contributions of citizen scientists?

The data was quality-tested and integrated into the modelling of the mowing-date-determination for farmers. Additionally, the data was entered into the pan-European phenological database ( and is thereby available for the whole scientific community.

Prizes and how were the winners determined?

In each of the categories (individual person/school class), ten observers with the most entries of panicle development and elderberry bloom were determined. From those the winners were drawn. The winner in the category individual got a non-cash prize. The winner in the category school class received 1,000 euros; the second school class won 750 euros.

Award winner
1st prize with 1.000,- euros: 5B BRG Hamerlingstraße  (Upper Austria)
2nd prize with 750,- euros: MMS Radstadt (Salzburg)
3rd prize with a non-cash prize: Luise Losert

Participating and supporting institutions


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