From "Reports on Agriculture", July 2002

Prospects of German arable land farms

Prof. Dr. Reiner Doluschitz, Stuttgart

In general, the structure and development tendencies of German arable land farms are highly influenced by the reformed agricultural policies.

That gives an influential reason to rethink the cultivation planning, taking changed premium relations into account, however not to leave out restriction of plant cultivation. The following brief enumeration of essential business plantation, technical production and also market-oriented facts for major crops shall support these considerations and such that the decisions to be made are secured.

Depending on initial business situation development perspectives are available and for that matter related concepts to increase arable farming in different areas. However, time might be over for the growth and developing processes for most of the farms. Further development has to be carried out by smaller steps.

Like always there will be technical progress, which is checked in individual cases and in case of applicability, it will have to be used in the sense of increasing production. To decrease costs, above all it should be thought of increasing land surface (single farm or within specific forms of cooperation). The production program of farms should also be checked regularly because often in a short time political and economical boundaries of facts change frequently. So, the range of development strategies for specialised arable land farms is quite broad. In single cases there are possibilities, through including additional functions (especially marketing) in order to incorporate unused work capacities and income potential within the farm. Finally not only from time to time the necessity and the profitability of investment growth should be looked into, but in increasing circumstances also measures in order to rationalize and save work.

Nitrogen use efficiency in German agriculture since 1950: Facts and evaluation

Dr. Peter. Schweigert and Prof. Dr. R. R. van der Ploeg, Hannover

The present agricultural production system in Germany is characterized by a high degree of commercial N-fertilizer and imported fodder use. Because the N use efficiency is low, a large part of the applied N is emitted in a reactive form into the environment. The possible damage caused in the environment so far has been investigated only partly. The objective of the present study therefore was to quantifiy this environmental damage. To this end, the yearly N surplus in German agriculture since 1951 was estimated with the use of statistical data on national agriculture. With the use of literature data, we showed how, and to which extent, surplus N is emitted into the environment. We also evaluated monetarily the environmental damage. To judge the magnitude of the environmental damage, the monetary damage was compared with the economical output of agriculture. Our calculations aim at directing ways to develop a sustainable agricultural production system, to which Germany has committed itself by signing the Agenda 21.

For the period under study (1951 to 2000), we calculated from the difference between the N input by commercial fertilizers and imported fodder, and the N output by animal and crop products the annual N surplus. This surplus increased from about 10 kg/ha in the 1950s to 120 kg/ha in the 1980s, and amounted to 70-80 kg/ha in the 1990s. In case additional N inputs are considered, such as N fixation by legume crops, N deposition from the atmosphere, or N input by compost and sludge, and if the lay-off cropland area is subtracted from the total agricultural land area, the calculated N surplus per hectare of cropland is considerably larger. For 1995, for example, in this case a N surplus of nearly 150 kg/ha is calculated, which is emitted largely into the environment (ground and surface waters, atmosphere). The annual external costs caused by these emissions are estimated at 2.5 to 10.0 billion DM (» 1.25 to 5.0 EU$). Furthermore we point out, that particularly animal products are consumed to such an extent that it harms the population's health. Stimulating and subsidizing organic farming may help to reduce the excessive use of nitrogen in today's agriculture. It appears, that in view of the present state of science and technology, the NO3 and agricultural N surplus problem in Germany can be solved enduringly only with a significant reduction in animal production.

On the acceptance of planned and existing hog production sites

Prof. Dr. Hans Kögl and Dr. Stefan Mann, Rostock

In eighteen East German municipalities, nine of them with a planned hog production site and the other nine with a planned hog production site, a survey was carried out (n = 639) on the factors influencing the acceptance of hog production. The influencing factors examined were the personal attitude on particular aspects of hog production, sociodemographic characteristics, the personal involvement in local decision making and size and production technology. As a result, existing production sites are perceived more positively than planned sites, without any influence of size and production technology. The difference seems to be based on the fact that planned sites are evaluated in respect to economic arguments as jobs and income (market goods), while existing sites are rather evaluated in respect to environmental factors (public goods). Real size and production technology do not have an impact on the acceptance. The result leads to the recommendation to plan large sites outside of the community, to emphasise economic aspects of the investment and for the investor to integrate socially in the rural community.

Still investing in milk quotas?

Prof. Dr. Clemens Fuchs, Neubrandenburg

Since October 2000 the milk quotas in Germany have been put up to auction. Despite a possible end of the quota system in 2008, the milk quota prices are relatively high and cause high costs for increasing milk operations. For a small dairy with 32 cows, a middle sized dairy with 85 cows and a 200 cow unit it is analysed, how, in the current situation liquidity and own capital will develop under different frame conditions and investment steps.

The calculations reflect a tendency to increase cow stocks within given capacities of buildings. The orientation on the marginal production factor efficiency explains the reversal of the actually high milk quota prices. A bigger investment in quota, cows and buildings could be a bad investment due to the expected further decrease of milk prices in the case of an end to the milk quota system. In most cases of active milk producers and such who want to continue milk production it is recommended to postpone the investment until a decision about the future of the milk quota system is made.

Additional costs of organic milk production in Austria

Dr. Leopold Kirner and Prof. Dr. Walter Schneeberger, Wien

In the years 1999 and 2000 few dairy farms converted to organic farming, whereas a number of organic dairy farms reverted to conventional production methods. It seems that the organic farming was not profitable for these farms. The present study assesses the additional costs incurred through organic milk production under the current conditions (year 2000) and calculates the price premium which would be necessary to cover these additional costs and/or to achieve an increased income. Using linear planning models the gross output and costs of organic milk production are compared. The various models differ regarding the participation in various measures of the Austrian Agri-Environment Program under conventional management, the farm size, the crops grown, the average milk production of the herd and the costs to adapt the stable for converting to organic farming. Without price premium all scenarios showed additional costs for the production of organic milk. An increase in the number of organic dairy farms therefore requires the combined efforts of improved marketing, government support and producers to increase the volume of milk sold with a price premium, improve the subsidies for the adaptation of stables to the guidelines of organic farming and optimise the production methods of organic milk production.

Testing of automatic milking systems (AMS) under economic, hygienic, ecological and animal welfare aspects as well as structural impacts on cattle farming
Part I: Technology, Animal Behaviour and Business Aspects

Dr. Ernst Bohlsen, Verden/Aller and Rudolf Artmann, Braunschweig

Automatic milking systems offer an innovative approach to improving productivity on dairy farms. As this technology is very expensive, and little was known regarding its technical reliability, the interplay between animal, technology and man, or of the extent of the operating costs and the effects on milk performance, a FuE project [ R & D project (Research and Development project)] was instituted to conduct a detailed study covering a number of Prolion AMS installed on different farms.

The technology, and especially the attachment system, proved to be unsatisfactory, and there was still room for improvement in other areas, too. Where herds are consistently selected on the basis of their cows´ compatibility with AMS, and good management in keeping with the plant, the prospects for improving profitability would appear to be good. In this connection, the size of the herd must be finely trimmed to the capacity of the plant, and the AMS must be integrated into the cow house with smart control of the animal traffic.

AMS can enhance the quality of the farmer´s life. It frees him from the fixed daily milking rounds, and can save working time. Observation of the animals and the monitoring of the system acquire special importance, and the latter must on no account be neglected. Since the capital and operating costs lie above those of the traditional milking methods, and the saving in working hours and the rise in milk production are lower than expected, AMS can only be expected to become competitive under favourable conditions. However, it may be assumed that further technical development and placing the system on the market will produce a competitive system. AMS will influence the future manner of growth of farms, the nature of their husbandry, and the quality of life on family farms. For farms using hired labour and located near industrial centres this could contribute to a reduction in wage costs.

Testing of automatic milking systems (AMS) under economic, hygienic, ecological and animal welfare aspects as well as structural impacts on cattle farming
Part II: Aspects of udder health and milk hygiene

Dr. Karin Knappstein, Dr. Gertraud Suhren, Dr. Ingrid Clawin-Rädecker, Dr. Joachim Reichmuth, Kiel

Investigations on automatic milking systems (Prolion Sales B.V., Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands) were performed on two dairy farms within a three year study from 1997 to 2000. Results regarding udder health and milk hygiene are summarized as follows:

In both herds udder health was negatively influenced. The number of infected udder quarters increased from 13.5 % to 25.0 % on farm A (mainly environmental streptococci) and from 20.4 to 26.0 % on farm B. The automation of processes during milking increased the risk for udder infections. A main problem is the detection of abnormal milk. Only about half of clinical cases of mastitis were detected in time.

On both farms not all available information was used for selection of diseased cows. This lead to increased somatic cell counts in bulk tank milk. Several times the threshold of 400 000/ml was exceeded on both farms. In addition the threshold for total bacterial counts in bulk tank milk was exceeded from time to time, mainly due to technical failures. The increase of coliform and thermoduric bacteria in bulk tank milk indicated deficiencies of teat cleaning performance and failures of system cleaning.

For automatic milking a good hygiene management on the farm is essential, but there are still shortcomings where compensation by the dairy farmer is not possible.

Comparative Economic Analysis of Conventional and Organic Hazelnut Farming in Turkey

Prof. Dr. Mehmet Bülbül and Harun Tanrývermiþ, Ankara

Hazelnut is cultivated in 420´000 ha of land and 400´000 producers are involved in hazelnut production in the Black Sea Region. Farms are small in size. Turkey produces between 62 % and 77 % of the world hazelnut production. As production is increased more than the demand, stock increased to 220´000 tonnes in 1998. Therefore, there is a need for some new regulations for hazelnut production and marketing policies. 1155 farmers based on a contract basis produced about 2288 tonnes of organic hazelnut in 3745 ha and 47,9 % of the production was exported in 1998. In this article, the organic hazelnut production was analysed by using data collected by a formal survey applied both of organic and conventional hazelnut farms and trading firms. It is determined that organic hazelnut farming contributes favourably to producers´ welfare. It is anticipated that organic hazelnut farming will be increased in this region.

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