Although our business encompasses many different activities, it is still founded on our own farm. What started as a small mixed farm with dairy cattle, pigs and hens has now gradually evolved into a specialised arable farm. Milk production, and with it all our other livestock farming activities, ended in April 2014.
The main crops we grow are cereals – wheat, barley, triticale and rye – but we also produce rape, potatoes, beet and silage maize.
After harvest, the cereals and rape go into our own store and are marketed by VERSIS.
Some of the potatoes are grown for propagation. This part of our crop is sold to the seed potato cooperative “Synplants” in Clervaux or Eselborn. However, we also produce table potatoes which are used to make genuine Luxembourg chips.
Beet and silage maize are grown “to order”, according to customer requirements. We take care of all the work and bear the business risk. The end product is delivered to the customer at a cost which can be calculated in advance. The price is based on weight, so the customer does not incur any risk. This service is particularly attractive to farms with a shortage of land or which do not want to bother with arable crops.
To encourage biodiversity, since the 2016-2017 season we have created a flower strip around most of our arable fields. This marginal strip is up to 9 metres wide and sown with a special perennial flower mix. No fertiliser is applied to these strips and they are not sprayed.
As well as the arable land, we also have 15 hectares of extensive permanent grassland. This land is mowed twice a year for hay wherever possible.
We cultivate our land using no-till mulch sowing methods as far as possible. This method has a number of advantages. Keeping the field covered with crops, harvest residues or catch crops all year round protects the soil from evaporation and drying. The organic material on the soil surface is also a source of nutrition for the soil organisms which create a macropore system. The plants use the pore system and earthworm tunnels to penetrate deeper into the soil. The mulch layer also has the benefit of suppressing weeds and protecting against erosion and capping. However, we still use the plough on steep slopes and before crops such as maize and beet. This enables us to plough the soil upwards and “wipe the slate clean” before drilling so that the seedbed can warm up better.
For several years, we have used tractors with GPS-assisted steering systems for arable work. This helps us to avoid overlaps and save on crop protection products and fertilisers.
For several years we have maintained a field catalogue where we document all the work on our fields. The results of soil sampling are also entered into this catalogue. Regular soil analysis enables us to use variable rate fertiliser application in our crops.
As we don’t have our own manure, we take excess slurry from livestock farms in the surrounding area. To use the slurry as efficiently as possible, we apply it close to the ground using the latest technology or incorporate it directly. This largely prevents ammonia emissions and odour pollution.
Our site is surrounded by forested areas, including spruce, Douglas fir, ash, beech and oak. We carry out most of the maintenance and thinning work in our stands ourselves, but usually outsource harvesting to specialist subcontractors. To protect the soil, we use logging horses to extract the wood from sensitive sites.
Cleared areas are always replanted and maintained.
We process small-diameter wood, which is difficult to sell, into woodchips to heat our buildings.