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Wheat, Estonia
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Wheat – Rannu Seeme, Estonia

The focus of this case study is to show how a small family farming enterprise has managed to expand and grow into a large, viable arable operation. The farm has increased wheat yields whilst maintaining the quality required for the premium milling market.

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Key areas of good practice
Certification / assurance:

The farm was accredited under the requirements of the GLOBALG.A.P. quality assurance scheme in June 2012. GLOBALG.A.P. ensures certified standards of practice in areas such as food safety/quality, environmental management, record keeping and worker welfare, which are all independently audited.

Crop initiatives:

A Global Positioning System (GPS) is fitted to the crop sprayer and fertiliser spreader, enabling accurate application of inputs, and minimising off–target applications. GPS is also fitted to the combine, which measures crop output across individual fields during harvest which allows yield data to be used to improve future fertiliser application decisions.

Product quality:

Producing high quality wheat for the expanding premium milling wheat market has provided access to a secure and valuable market for the business.

The farm is a member of a large co–operative (representing a total of 80,000 hectares of farmland). The co–operative provides group purchasing of plant protection products (PPPs), fertilisers and fuel, and markets all crops produced on the farm. This has increased trading strength and reduced prices paid for inputs.

The farm undertakes field trials in partnership with two institutes. The results of these trials are shared on–line, at farmer meetings and at training days held on the unit. The farm's commitment and enthusiasm to share its initiatives and good practices provides a valuable source of information and knowledge for other farmers.

Soil health:

Average annual wheat yields produced on the farm are 7 tonnes per hectare (with 8 tonnes per hectare achieved in 2012). This is 50% higher than the average Estonian wheat yield of 4.63 tonnes/hectare. In order to achieve this level of productivity the farm undertakes a number of practices to improve soil health and fertility.

Staff:

The farm operates an apprenticeship programme, providing a work placement for young people wanting to pursue a career in agriculture.

Ecosystem protection:

Fields over 20 hectares at Rannu Seeme are bordered by a three metre wildlife strip and the farm has set aside 4 hectares of farmland for use as a feeding area for the local wildlife.