Wheat – Germany, Gut Piesdorf GbRView summary of actions & benefits >>
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Key areas of good practice:
The farm is certified with GLOBALG.A.P. – an assurance programme inspected by an independent third party company that covers a wide range of practices and policies in the area of food quality and safety, environmental standards and worker welfare.
The farm is DLG Sustainability certified. This certification comprises ecological, economic and social indicators (equivalent to the McDonald’s 3 Es approach) – including: soil protection, water, resource use, biodiversity, plant protection, food safety and hygiene, safety at work, staff training and the impacts of agriculture on the climate.
The farm has invested in the N-Sensor, a tractor-mounted tool that measures the percentage of light reflected from the crop as the tractor passes through the field. This information allows the N-Sensor to measure the crop’s nitrogen requirement and automatically vary the fertiliser application rates accordingly. The N-Sensor system has reduced nitrogen fertiliser use on the farm by 5% with no loss of yield.
A Global Positioning System (GPS) is fitted to the sprayer, limiting application inaccuracies by automatically switching off the sprayer boom sections when they pass over previously treated areas, or if they go beyond the field boundaries. Improving application accuracy saves on inputs (and their associated costs), limits crop stress and reduces application time and operator stress
Soil testing for nitrogen is carried out in spring to ensure nitrogen application rates are matched to soil reserves and plant requirements, reducing over-application and losses. In early summer wheat leaf samples are taken and used to calculate the plants’ nitrogen levels. Nitrogen applications are then matched to crop requirements to ensure protein levels in the seed meet milling quality requirements.
The farm has significantly increased the use of organic manures to improve soil structure. The practice has already lowered input costs by reducing the amount of artificial nitrogen, potash and phosphate fertilisers needed. This, in turn, has reduced the farm’s carbon footprint as artificial nitrogen fertilisers in particular are highly energy-intensive to manufacture.
Management practices over the last 20 years have increased soil humus levels to 3%. Humus increases the water holding capacity of soil and for every 1% of humus present in soil, 25kg of nitrogen per hectare can be released. The principle component of humus is carbon; a 1% increase in soil humus levels has the potential to sequester an extra 88 tonnes/hectare of CO2.
The pre-harvest risk assessment carried out between the two businesses has been developed primarily for the protection of human health and food safety. The risk assessment identifies any potential in-field issues which allows the farm to implement measures to mitigate any identified risks, such as the application of a fungicide.
Gut Piesdorf and Saalmuhle have identified the importance of working together to improve food safety which requires a farm-to-table approach, based on risk analysis and sharing responsibilities to reduce any potential hazards.
Gut Piesdorf has installed a Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) system on the roof of its grain store to collect water for use in their sprayer. This has allowed the farm to reduce the requirements of purchased water leading to a reduction of input costs.