Logo
Cover

Agriculture is not a Monopoly

Anyone who believes that groundwater can now be saved quickly and farmers calmed down a billion times has still not understood what is going wrong with Bavarian, German and European Agricultural Policy. An agricultural policy that for decades forces farmers onto the world market and trains them with high Input to produce maximum yields and benefits is now taking revenge. All that could stop this development is a reversal.

Agriculture

But a continuation of this, certainly also in order not to harm the agribusiness and the upstream and downstream industries, will only exacerbate the Situation even further. Although it has not yet been definitively clarified what this” farmer billion " -the name in itself is an impudence – is to be used for, it can be assumed that primarily manure storage, manure transport, manure barrels, manure separation and possibly a few agri-environmental measures are promoted.

To understand this madness, one has to go into a bit of Detail: the fertilisation Ordinance of 2017 is supposed to be an Instrument to reduce nitrate levels in groundwater and Amoniak outgassing from agriculture. If the measures are not effective, Germany could face fines of € 800,000 per day to Brussels. Now it is quite astonishing that only this pressure from Brussels was necessary, that politics in Germany recognized the need for action at all.

Agriculture

To The Fertilizer Regulation

On the basis of a yellow booklet, in which the quantities required for the individual crops are listed, every farmer must now draw up a fertilization requirement determination – of course, depending on the yield, which he cannot yet know at the time of fertilization, because the harvest, as is well known, depends not only on fertilization, but much more on the weather. Here already the first source of error.

In addition, science has long complained that the stated need is far too high. Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Taube from the Carl Albrechts University in Kiel has calculated that about 100 Kg of nitrogen (which then converts to nitrate) is applied too much per hectare per year. And a study by the " verband der landwirtschaftlichen Untersuchungs - und Forschungsanstalten E.V.” (Association of agricultural research and research institutes) has concluded in 15 years of field trials that a reduction of nitrogen by 40% on average only leads to a reduction of yield by 10%.

Exactly these important findings are not reflected in the fertiliser ordinance or in agricultural training.

Agriculture

For Application

Since a catch crop (e.g. grain is sown after the main crop in the months of July-August) may no longer be fertilized, the time in which fertilizer may be applied in agriculture is reduced to three to four months. The larger slurry tanks are now to be built for this purpose. But even common sense tells you that this does not reduce the amount.

In addition, you have to know that the costs for the respective investment usually increase by about the amount as there is subsidy. Coincidence? In addition, from this year on, manure may only be applied on cultivated fields close to the ground (in grassland from 2025), which amounts to an immense capital injection for the agricultural machinery industry.

Agriculture

The alternatives developed by many farmers and tested over many years, such as slurry treatment with stone flour or effective microorganisms, which also leads to a reduction of amonia outgassing, are not permitted. No, there must always be technical “solutions” that cost US farmers a lot of money.

Slurry transport

If farms now keep too many animals in relation to their area, then the manure and especially the fermentation substrate of the biogas plants must be transported to areas that can still absorb the manure – at least on paper. This is already happening on a large scale from Lower Saxony to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but also in Bavaria you can see more and more of these slurry trucks. Now this Transport should probably be promoted.

Agriculture

More meaningful would be a surface-based animal husbandry with max. two livestock units per hectare (1 gm corresponds to approx. 1 cow). The shortening of the application time together with increased documentation obligation and overburdening bureaucracy can never lead to the goal. Rather, the amount of mineral fertiliser would have to be reduced, but this remains almost uncontrollable in the new fertiliser ordinance.

Is it naivety or calculus?

It seems to me that this fertiliser regulation is designed precisely in such a way that the existing system is maintained and attempts are made to escape the penalties of the EU with a few small pitfalls. In the series of visionless Agricultural Policy and the bungling fertilizer ordinance, the money thrown out by the “farmer’s billion” fits perfectly. It will only serve to bring farmers and consumers even further apart.

Agriculture

The longer politicians and their specialist authorities fail to acknowledge that this system is heading straight for a wall and refuse to take effective action, the more expensive, painful and difficult it will ultimately be for both taxpayers and farmers. And the more damage will be caused to groundwater, biodiversity, soil fertility, the whole of nature and thus also to humans.

Gertraud Angerpointner / organic farmer, regional chairman of the Working Group on rural agriculture, Landesverband Bayern E.V. (ABL Bayern). Gertraud Angerpointner and her partner Schorsch Planthaler run the Fürmann Alm (see next photo), the highest farm and mountain farm in the municipality of Anger, with a lot of commitment and passion.

The Fürmann Alm is located in the Teisenberg area, which is an upstream ridge of the Staufen Massif. The road there is one of the most challenging routes in the Chiemgau Alps: over a distance of about three kilometres, the gradient is about 20 %. There are not many of them in Berchtesgadener Land. Once you have reached the top of 861 meters, you have a beautiful view over Anger and the Rupertiwinkel as well as the entire Alpine foothills to Upper Austria.

On the Fürmannalm you will discover organic farming in Mountain regions, Pinzgau cows an old cattle breed, the world of bees and a large farm garden. On a tour of the farm, you will repeatedly encounter regional delicacies: from Salami from our own Pinzgau beef to honey bread, to the herbs from the garden.

Agriculture