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Wheat – Friedrich Haase, Latvia

Wheat – Friedrich Haase, Latvia

Friedrich Hasse moved from Germany to Latvia in 2003 and started his farming operation with 100 hectares of land. This has since grown to 4,100 hectares with 24 full-time employees. Here he describes how good management and strategic investment in infrastructure, technology and staff, has allowed him to grow the business and provided the opportunity to work collaboratively with Dobele and Tartu Veski Mills.

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Key areas of good practice

The key initiatives on the farm are:

  • Friedrich purchased land in this specific area of Latvia because of the low agricultural land values. Land prices in this region have been adversely affected by limited financial investment, infra-structure and management which have resulted in a loss of soil productivity and quality e.g. poor field drainage maintenance leading to water logged soils.

  • To help improve the soil health and structure, the farm has introduced a number of practices to increase soil organic matter (SOM) levels and improve the positive effect this has on several elements of the soil’s properties, such as nutrient cycling, biological activity and water retention. Crop residues such as cereal straw and cover crops are incorporated into soils to increase the available organic material and cultivations are undertaken to minimise SOM losses

  • The farm undertakes a regime of regular soil testing for phosphate, potash and pH levels which are recorded on digital field maps. This data provides the necessary information to the fertiliser spreader which is fitted with GPS (Global Positioning System), to allow variable applications rates across a field to meet targeted soil nutrient levels. This system is helping to apply inputs more precisely and to help balance the soil nutrient profiles across each field.

  • To optimise nitrogen fertiliser applications with the aim of reducing quantities needed to maintain yields, the farm has implemented practices and technology which includes:

    • Using the N-sensor technology which automatically adjusts nitrogen applications based on crop demands
    • Planting nitrogen fixing crops to improve soil N levels
    • Trialling the application of nitrogen fixing bacteria to the soil
  • Generally, farms in Latvia operate through a system of grain traders and co-operatives which provide both grain storage and drying facilities and ultimately market the grain. To optimise the business and farm management Friedrich has invested in 12,000 tonnes of on farm grain storage facilities and a grain drier. This has also provided him with the flexibility to market and sell his own grain and the opportunity to develop grain contracts with the local mill.

  • The grain driers purchased by the Friedrich have been specifically selected to utilise wood chip to generate the heat required to dry the grain. This wood is collected and sourced from around the farm and provides a sustainable and renewable source of fuel for grain drying.