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EAF country-report from Germany Juni 2005

written by Lorenz von Schintling - Horny, committee member

 

 

Dear members and friends,

for those who could not take part, I just want to give a short overview of what we saw and did. Overall I can say that we had a most enjoyable visit. With very great hosts, lots of new and good information and a group of 28 participants who learnt a lot about the country its hospitality, its tradtion and farming.

We are very grateful to Johan Koed-Jorgensen (Committee member for Denmark) for organising the trip.

On Friday we had a conference at the Munkjeberg Hotel. (It is a superb hotel with excellent food and drink overlooking the Velje Fjord).

First of all Thorben Moeller gave an introduction about the production techniques of wheat, grass and rape growing in Denmark. He gave us an insight about the fertiliser and pesticide restrictions in Denmark. Thereby we learnt that Danish farmers use only 100 to 120 l/ha water with small nozzles in order to use only very small amounts of ingredients (pesticides). Despite wet weather conditions and continuous wheat (although ploughed) the fungicide costs are below € 50,- / ha. Wheat only gets between 150 kg (feed) and 170 kg (milling) of nitrogen. Nevertheless good yields of 10 tons are possible in the centre of Denmark and 9 tons in the North of Denmark. The next day we looked at the fields and we could see that the farmers could control the grass weeds as well as the diseases. The crops looked very well. Another advantage of only using 100 ltr of water /ha for fungicides is that you can cover more hectares in the good spraying hours between 17.00 and 20.00 hours.

Furthermore Thorben Moeller compared the three agricultural regions (Poland, Mecklenburg Vorpommern and Denmark). All regions have advantages and disadvantages.

Benny Kirkebaekke Christensen (managing director) of DLF Trifolium and Asbjorn Botsing (managing director) of DLG introduced us to the agricultural related Danish industry. DLF trifolium is a very successful and now international working grass seed breeder and seller. DLG is a trading cooperative with interests in feed mills and trading facilities. Both have large market shares in Denmark. While DLG concentrates its activities around the Baltic sea, in order to supply the Danish pig industry with cheap feed, DLF looks for its grass activities at the whole world market.

Both managing directors showed that , when cooperatives have clear aims (ie strategy = best in the market, low cost structure and maximum benefit to members), then there are plenty of opportunities to develop a national cooperative into an international player.

In the evening we had a lovely dinner and had the chance to take part in the mid summer night celebrations with singing, drinking  and a lovely open fire.)

The next day we saw the DLG Sejet Plant breeding station. Its director showed us how closely DLG and Carlsberg (the brewers) work together to breed for the best malting barley. Also we learnt that DLG works closely with pig producers and feed mills in order to breed the best feed wheat (high starch content – high amino acids). Not only the variety is bred, but the wheat is grown in a farm contract and farmers are told to plough and not to grow that variety after maize. It is interesting to see that in Denmark the chain from the farms to the industry are a lot more developed than for example in Germany.

Then Johan Koed – Jorgensen showed us around his farms invited us into his house and told us on the Veranda about his farming career in the last forty years. It was a deeply moving story of ups and downs, about hard work, about bright ideas at the right time.  In short Johan had the strategy to buy run down farms and to bring them back to their former glory and selling them at an interesting price, in order to buy an even bigger farm. Furthermore he invested in grain storage and other activities outside agriculture which I do not want to disclose here in this Email. One great hobby though is to buy devastated cottages and to remake them and rent them to townies.

I personally never have seen such immaculate estates. The farm machines looked as if they were just about to be shown at Agritechnica (so new and clean). The grain barn , although newly build, was build in the old Danish style, but with 8 m high walls inside, and a roof with 35 degrees and the Zementfaserplatten looking red and like tiles form the outside. I am sure and hope that Jan Paul , who has taken pictures will make them available for everybody. No need to say that the crops looked perfect as well. Weed has no chance on the Jorgensen estates. Throughout the day we discussed farming matters and had lunch at the highest point of Denmark (164 m a.sea level).

In the evening we had the general assembly and you will get a protocol from our new secretary Alexander von Chappuis, who proved to be a worthy successor to Werner Mutz.

The next day we drove up to the “poor” North. The north of Denmark used to be poor. As there was no social securities in the old days, so no one could just sit back, people had to use their brain. Hence the farm tourism and a strong pig industry started in the North.

Firstly we visited the farm of our member Hans Rottball and his wife Anne. They showed us their home the “Borglum Kloster”. We were invited to see the ball room, where Hans told us about the history of the Kloster and how they attract tourists to their home, with different attractions, (herb garden, celebrations, museum, Kloster visit.) Furthermore Hans showed us his farm and grain store and handed out a map of his farm as well an account of his seed,, fertiliser and pesticide applications (I do no scan this information in the computer, as they are private figures).  His agronomist told us about all the necessary details, so we could discuss about the Thorben Moeller topics in practise. We also discussed profitability of the different crops. It seems that grass is the most profitable crop. We also discussed rising land prices. It seems that pig farmers and arable farmers do not work together in Denmark. Pig farmers rather pay around € 18.000/ha , then paying arable farmers € 150,-/ha for their manure disposal. On the other hand as land prices always rose, the pig farmers securities against the bank loans always rose as well. So it was always good to own land. This might change when land prices come down, as subsidies fall.

Then we moved to the farm and home of our member Flemming Fuglede and his wife Annette. He also showed us his farm, grain store  and his land and his production details. He showed to us how he converted old farm buildings and rents them out. Furthermore we saw his windmills (pension). He explained to us how he rears pheasants and ducks and sells them for shooting parties. (Flemming is a top breeder of Pointer dogs and wins many prices at European level, whoever needs a good hunting dog should contact him directly). The shooting area only takes around 20 hectares (including set aside)  of his around 500 ha farm, but contributes to a lot higher income. Lastly he showed us his “Put and Take” fish pont, where tourists can fish “Forellen” and put money in a box and then can fish and take the fish home. It was very impressive to see, especially as the sun shined and the “customers” very much enjoyed themselves. A great idea to use a pont economically. In the house on the Veranda we discussed that farmers in the North of Denmark, despite unfavourable conditions, have managed to find niches. In all Flemmings acitivities were very impressive.

Furthermore we have to thank Flemming and Hans for inviting us for lunch in Borglum.

Lastly we saw the Aage Bak estate. Aage Bak used to be a potato farmer but converted his farm into an energy crop growing willow ,puplice and wind mill farm. We not only learnt everything about the production (planting, fertiliser, harvesting) of the energy crops, but also about his breeding programme for different varieties. Willows are not only used for energy , but also for fences , for hedges, sold as willows for garden. Aage showed us the wide range of his activity around the willow and how he suddenly found himself to convert his potato barns into selling pet food, wooden chairs, and other lifestyle products for the family and garden. Again a superb example of someone who took risks but also saw opportunities and niches. The group was convinced that there will be many farmers who will copy Aage Baks activities. We were most impressed.

So on our way back south there was again much to be discussed and everyone felt that they had learnt a lot. And after all that is what the EAF Club is about.

Back in the hotel, I had to drive home and could not take part in the Saturday evening dinner as well as the Kopenhagen tour on Sunday. But at least I am able to write this short memo about the trip.

Again I want to thank Johan Koed Jorgensen for being our host and to be our main sponsor during those four days. I think it was one of our best tours ever and I am glad that we finally achieved to have found four wonderful new friends and members in Denmark. Johan it was great. Thank you and your wife Lisbeth for your great hospitality.

Lastly I have to inform you that the election of a new President was postponed. Our next meeting will be during AGRITECHNICA in Hannover. It will start on Monday the 7th of November in the afternoon before the Max Eyth evening with a Committee meeting and a general assembly. Then we take part in the Max Eyth evening.

On Tuesday we will see one or two farms and discuss the use of rape oil and Biodiesel in tractors and the first experiences German farmers had this autumn with their tractors, combines and sugar beet harvesters. Will rape oil replace the Diesel as fuel ? Should the rape oil be crushed on farm or should we buy refined rape oil from industrial plants? Do we loose or gain horsepower with the new fuel ? How do we prevent water to dilute the hygroscopic rape oil and hence how do we prevent corrosion ?

In the evening we take part in the international wheat event, which is also the meeting point for all the international guests of the Agritechnica.

For those members, who want to visit Agritechnica on Sunday, they have to contact their local machinery dealers. For those members who want to visit the Agritechnica on the exclusive Monday they should contact our Secretary Alexander von Chappuis, who will send you the tickets for Monday and or Tuesday / Wednesday.

Please do not forget to ask friends to join the club. We need new members and Agritechnica is always a good chance to introduce potential members to the club atmosphere.

Have a good harvest and hope to see you in November.

Lorenz