So funktionieren die Leitbetriebe Ökologischer Landbau NRW

Organic pilot farms in North Rhine-Westphalia The project “Organic pilot farms in North Rhine-Westphalia” consists of 30 practice farms, the Chamber of Agriculture, organic farmer’s associations and the University of Bonn. Together, we conduct research on practical issues. The good thing about the Organic Pilot Farms is that we address problems that are of real practical relevance. And then we decide how we can set up a trial to address the problems. This is a unique and sound concept to involve practitioners. Selection of pilot farms The leading farms were selected, together with the advisors of the Chamber of Agriculture and the farmer’s associations, in order to represent as many of the main production areas in North Rhine-Westphalia as possible. In addition to production technology, it is very important that the pilot farmers are communicative, and that they are willing to show their farms and their trials to other farmers. Example: Weed control in rapeseed As an example: Rapeseed is challenging in terms of weed control and nutrient supply. That is why we have tried to improve weed control. Since we have little time in summer, mechanical weed control was not an option. That is why we have tried to use a mixed culture of buckwheat to control the weeds. However, we did not pay enough attention to the fact that buckwheat takes nutrients from rapeseed. We therefore replaced buckwheat with summer vetch. This has the same effect in terms of weed suppression. Additionally, it also has the positive effect that it does not take nutrients from the rapeseed, but provides additional nutrients. Knowledge transfer The transfer of knowledge takes place later, usually by presenting our results together with the farmers. We will meet at such a field day tomorrow, where we will present a project that has now been running for almost five years: the project “cut & carry – using clover for livestock-free farms”. We will present it from a scientific point of view and then one of our pilot farmers will comment on it. Our experience has shown that the pilot farmer’s comments are very well received in practice. Just for organic farming? I would not say that this concept is only tailored to organic farming. But the structures of organic associations are very helpful in maintaining communication and, above all, in putting the results into practice.

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