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Knowledge & Skills

Grain reserves: In the hands of just a few countries

By Dr Christian Bickert, DLG Mitteilungen

Stockpiled worldwide is about 40 % of global annual requirement for wheat, 28 % for maize and 25 % for sugar. But what proportion of these reserves are available to purchasing countries?  And who stores this ware? Here we sort out the respective figures for you.

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Diesel: What comes next?

By Thomas Preusse, DLG Mitteilungen

The debate over the »Green Deal« applies to farm machinery too. Industry and institutes have long been working with methane - or fuel cells and batteries for electric drive. But what’s the best way ahead? There’s still no sign of the right direction and here’s why.

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Veterinary treatment per video?

By Jörg Held, editorial manager of the online news portal wir-sind-tierarzt.de

Before the corona crisis, telemedicine was seen as a project for the future. But lockdown pulled digital communication for vets right into focus Europe-wide and now this market is developing full speed ahead – although some countries, Germany for example, are lagging behind the leaders.

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Traceability - a key to export for pig farmers in Russia

By Sven Häuser, EPP

A conference for pig farmers organized by the DLG and EPP took place in Moscow this year. It was embedded in the technical program of Agros 2020, a new international DLG exhibition for animal and feed production in Russia, and was carried out in cooperation with the National Union of Pig Breeders. The conference highlighted traceability and transparency as a tool to secure export markets for pork.

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Subclinical ketosis: »It hits the high-performance cows«

By Katharina Heil, DLG Mitteilungen

Subclinical ketosis is an »occupational hazard« for the dairy cow. Stefan Freuen has studied the disease intensively in his herd. He describes his monitoring methods and discusses the influences on cow performance and production lifetime.

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Bees need oilseed rape

By Dr Doris Ahlers

 ... and rape growers the bees as pollinators. All of which means farmers and beekeepers work together in increasing harmony nowadays.


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Where does our soya come from?

By Dr Christian Bickert

Each year the EU buys-in 33 m t of soya meal and soybeans from third countries of which around 6 m t lands in Germany. Where does this ware come from – and can soya grown in the EU ever be competitive with it?

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Pig breeding: Increasing welfare via genetics

By Christin Benecke

Many characteristics relevant to animal welfare, such as boar taint or piglet mortality, have a genetic component and can be influenced through boar selection. Still the exception, however, is clear designation of appropriate breeding values.

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Two tools to help farmers understand climate change

By Frédéric Levrault, Expert "Agriculture et changement climatique" – Chambres d’agriculture, France

In France, as in the rest of Europe, farmers and their professional managers have now clearly understood that adapting agriculture to climate change has become absolute essentially.

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Climate Change Support for Agriculture: Is France a Step Ahead?

By Mark Parnell, Independent farm advisor

In travelling to different countries and different agricultural exhibitions one frequently sees country specific differences for farming practices. But especially on the subject of climate change and the implications for agricultural production it could be reasonable to bundle activities.

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Lean management: Seeking the time-stealers

By Bianca Fuchs, DLG Mitteilungen

Optimal work routines save time and effort. Moderate on-farm spares and input inventories tie up less capital. Staff given responsibility are more proactive in their work planning. Such advice is part and parcel of so-called »lean management«, a technique for activating the unused potential still slumbering in many farm businesses.

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More fish from Asia

By Markus Wolf, DLG Mitteilungen

Overfishing, pollution and climate change impact fish populations the world over. Natural fishery results reflect this with annual catch increases lessening year after year. But in response there are very rapid production increases in aquaculture, producing ware selling particularly well in Europe.

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Neither fish nor flesh

By Katrin Rutt, DLG Mitteilungen

Insects are seen as attractive future protein sources. So far, though, there’s no tried and trusted large-scale production concept: a situation North-Rhine Westphalia entrepreneurs Dirk Wessendorf, Martin Ewering and Günter Wielens aim to change soon.

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More piglets - and more litters too

By Prof. Dr Steffen Hoy, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, and Birgitt Hameister, VzF GmbH Uelzen

It’s often maintained that breeding for large litters leads to shorter productive lives for the sows. But high fertility and long-year production do not rule each other out. Steffen Hoy and Birgitt Hameister have the evidence.

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24 January 2020: Happy Birthday, EPP!

By Gert van Beek, EPP-President

It was January 24, 1990 in Denmark when a group of international pig farmers founded the European Pig Producers Club on the initiative of DLG during an agricultural fair in Herning.

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Agricultural trading 4.0 – or only hot air?

By Dr Christian Bickert

More transparency, better prices and above all less labour input: all this is promised by the new agri-trading platforms currently shooting out of the ground like mushrooms. Is this the beginning of the end for the classic farm supply outlets? Or are new marketing opportunities opening-up here for farmers and local traders?

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Plants manage their own rhizosphere

By DLG Mitteilungen

The immediate area of soil around plant roots – the so-called rhizosphere – still belongs to the »great unknown« areas of plant research. Better understanding of the microbiome functions might open opportunities for precise actions in the distant future.

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CRISPR/Cas has limitations

By DLG Mitteilungen

So far, new breeding methods (»CRISPR/Cas«) have represented a golden future for crop production, offering plant breeding progress with unbeatable price-performance value. But recent research at ETH (Swiss Technical University) in Zurich indicates the CRISPR/Cas »gene shear« has its limitations.

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Danish milk producers: Efficiency is the secret of their success

By Bianca Fuchs

Participants attending last year’s European Dairy Farmers Congress in Denmark learnt all about efficiently managed dairy farms that had undergone substantial expansion and delivered impressive milk production performances. Here are three examples.

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Dairy expansion beset by limiting factors

By Bianca Fuchs

Excellent locational and climatic conditions and high production performance are all synonymous with dairy land Denmark. On the other hand, costs for labour and land are high, farm businesses depend to a great extent on outside capital and society demands on the sector continue to rise.

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Biodiversity: More target setting!

By DLG Mitteilungen

In Germany, opinions tend to differ sharply on the theme »agriculture and biodiversity«. Especially farmers plead for a strict separation, with intensive agriculture here and nature protection there.

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Increasing yields: Top crop experts on rooting

By Christian Bickert and Katrin Rutt

Earlier this year, scientists and farmers joined a DLG-Mitteilungen workshop on aspects of crop rooting. How can this aspect of plant development be encouraged for better and, above all, more stable yields? The discussion, reported below, offers expert answers to important questions.

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Beef: The mechanisms behind the price

Dr Isam Almadani and Dr Zazie von Davier, Thünen Institute of Farm Economics, Braunschweig

Climate change, government policies and export market access are all important factors influencing the worldwide beef market. Even events at the other end of the world have an influence on the way the beef markets in our own countries develop.

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Animal welfare: A question of morality

By Prof. Dr Peter Kunzmann, University of Veterinary Medicine (TiHo), Hanover

Important parts of central European society have a massive interest in the welfare of animals. Whether this concern is based on the necessary factual knowledge is quite another matter – an attitude that unfortunately continues in subsequent communication.

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Pig housing: Avoiding heat stress

By Christin Benecke

It doesn’t have to be a summer of the century for pigs to be overheated in their housing. How can we avoid this through the hot season?

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Mycorrhizal fungi: Invisible aid

By PD Dr Christel Baum, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Rostock

Interest grows in new methods that might improve crop production. But many of them still need considerable research, for instance the use of biostimulators. Mycorrhization is an aspect of the latter. What can this offer crop growers?

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Older topics

How do we reach the consumer?

By Dr Christian Bickert

Social media, newspaper articles or open-door days on the farm – there’s no all-round successful recipe for communication with the general public. But what’s the best route?

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N fertiliser application: 20 % under optimum - and back again

By Thomas Preusse

If there’s one country that has taken the EU Water Framework Directive especially seriously for a considerable time now, it’s certainly Denmark. The main reason for this was, and still is, the critical condition of the Baltic Sea.

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Six maps explain the world markets

Output of agricultural products and their trade steams on the world markets appear at first complex and hard to follow. But global trade patterns tend to repeat themselves and follow fixed rules. Those who understand this can then appreciate many developments or even anticipate them.

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Pig Farming in Europe: Learning from each other!

For the first time in the almost 30-year history of the association, the Managing Board of the European Pig Producers (EPP) e.V. met in Finland last year. In addition to working through the agenda, a visit to a pig farm and a large slaughterhouse and a consulting company were scheduled. As a result, the members of the managing board were able to familiarise themselves with the special aspects of pork production in Finland "from farm to fork".

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Between factual logic and psycho-logic

By Johannes Simons and Carl Vierboom

Why is it that fact-based arguments have limited chance against the power of imagery in the realm of persuasion – and can the agricultural sector learn from this to improve its own communication?

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Blockchain: Maximum transparency

By Martin Stoussavljewitsch, Youki GmbH, Regensburg

Everyone speaks about it but hardly anyone knows what exactly lies behind blockchain technology. Already clear, however, is that it can enable greater transparency within the agricultural delivery chain. And the data involved cannot be manipulated. Here’s how the blockchain concept functions.

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How can we cope with weather extremes?

By Detlev Dölger and Wiebke Lenge, Hanse Agro, Gettorf, Germany

The extreme conditions in 2017 and 2018 once again emphasised just how unpredictable weather and climate have become. What if such »exceptional years« become standard? How can farms prepare for such conditions?

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Saving our bees – seriously!

By Thomas Preusse

Bees get a lot of attention nowadays. Everyone speaks about their survival, although knowledge of the different species and their habitats is still relatively limited.

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Non-chemical seed dressing?

By Dr Michael Hess

Chemical seed treatment is the simplest and safest procedure. But if this approach is no longer effective and the active ingredients therefore wasted, what then? Physical and biological alternatives have their limitations. But the so-called »Swedish model« offers a very promising approach.

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Milk from grass: Full speed ahead

By Johannes Thomsen, University of Applied Sciences, Kiel

Milk production in Ireland is right on-course for continued expansion. Following a substantial increase last year, there’s every sign that progress will be maintained in 2019, particularly as conditions for this remain ideal.

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New bread-baskets supply the world

By Bernd Chilla, RMI, Hamburg

Global grain trade patterns have changed radically in the last ten years. No longer is the USA unchallenged as »bread-basket of the world«. Catching up fast as top grain suppliers are Ukraine, Russia and Brazil. EU exports are also affected – at least for wheat.

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Leaving the calf longer with the cow?

By Hauke Tergast, Wiebke Schumacher and Kerstin Barth

The early separation of calf and cow is a much-criticised aspect of dairy farming. But would keeping them together longer be financially viable for the farm business?

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European Pig Producers consolidate network in South Africa

By EPP

The inaugural appearance of representatives from the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) at the 2018 EPP Congress in Switzerland recently prompted a three-day reciprocal visit by the EPP to the Johannesburg/Praetoria region. 

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New breeding methods: One verdict, many questions

By Katrin Rutt

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has spoken: new breeding techniques around the CRISPR/Cas procedure will come under gene technology, as far as the law is concerned. While the court’s decision imparts long overdue legal certainty, it’s also the starting gun for a flood of very difficult questions.

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Eggs from high welfare layers sold-out every day

By Norman Dunn

It was a vision to begin with. Dutch poultry farmer and university lecturer Ruud Zanders searched the world for a carbon-neutral egg production system. Early-on, it became clear that this vision would greatly profit from Nijsen-Granico’s “food for feed” concept. Another identified requirement was animal housing designed to supply all required energy for ventilation, lighting, etc. Zanders formed a partnership with three other businessmen and named the company Kipster.

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Food to feed: Reducing farming’s carbon footprint

By Norman Dunn

Here’s an overall concept involving farmer, feed miller, food processor and retailer all working together. The aim: production of welfare-based and environmentally-friendly high-quality food. The concept has already started in the Netherlands where one of the first projects features egg and chicken meat production.

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Brussel’s new plans

By Thomas Preusse

The present EU agricultural policy (CAP) applies until 2020. But if EU Commission proposals for the period 2021 to 2027 are followed, we’ll still be meeting old acquaintances then including capping and degressive payments or risk management through insurances.  But what exactly might be new?

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Belarus: A surprise in the East

By Christoph Foth

»Toss your preconceptions overboard«. Here’s a socialist country that’s not behind the times and neither corrupt nor poverty ridden. Although on mainly poor soils, its agriculture remains productive thanks to a well-managed planned economy.

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Ripp’s Dairy Valley: Perfect conditions for high performance cows

By Sibylle Möcklinghoff-Wicke, Dairy Innovation Team

Ripp‘s Dairy Valley is a family business run by brothers Chuck, Gary and Troy Ripp and their families. Stocking is 980 cows, 880 of them milked three times daily. Labour force: 18 workers including eight milkers.

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Water pollution: Who’s to blame?

By Prof Tobias Licha, Göttingen University

Often agriculture gets the blame for negative effects on water quality. But there are other ways in which nitrate or plant protection substances can land in the environment.

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Cubicles: Best bedding for cows

By Sibylle Möcklinghoff-Wicke, Dairy Innovation Team

Cows must feel comfortable for optimum milk production. Maximum time in the cubicles and enough space to lie down and get up comfortably help secure cow comfort.

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Cropping for starch: cardboard creates more demand

By Dr Christian Bickert

Spiralling starch production is taking place in Europe’s south and west, particularly from wheat and maize. This affects traditional price differences between inland and coastal grain markets.

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Ukraine: Europe's »Middle East«

By Dr Christian Bickert

Maize and soybeans as far as the eye can see. If it weren't for the sunflower fields, this could be the USA's Midwest. There are other important differences too.

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Pig production: Cost advantages slip away

By Robert Hoste, Wageningen Economic Research

Over the last five years or so, Dutch pig producers have faced massively increased competition. There are many reasons for this, but a prominent role is played by the problems of manure disposal.

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Cow comfort – the American approach

By Sibylle Möcklinghoff-Wicke

Only cows that feel comfortable can produce lots of milk while remaining healthy. The aim in America is to optimise housing so that all negative performance factors are avoided.

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Entrepreneur: bettering your business skills

By Enno Karstens

Advisers know it. Farm business comparisons show it. The biggest influence on farm results is the farmer’s entrepreneurial spirit.  Increasing output through more fields and more livestock is not the only way ahead. So what else do modern farmers need for business success?

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Current business environment and expectations for business development of Brazilian farmers mediocre

The business environment in Brazil is imbalanced at the moment. Cash crop producers tend to be satisfied, but there is dissatisfaction among dairy cattle farmers.

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Pig farmers focus on animal health and efficiency

By EPP (European Pig Producers)

Pig farming is an important and significant industry in the global agricultural and food sector. A decisive factor for the increase in global demand for high-quality food in the past two decades was the demographic development.

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Does wheat cause disease and obesity?

By Dr Friedrich Longin, University of Hohenheim

Nutrition. A flood of currently published books claims wheat is bad for health. But too often the respective authors ignore or misinterpret the cereal’s scientifically proven benefits: an approach that does more harm to humans who really suffer from wheat-caused diseases.

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Drones: The airtech revolution agriculture

By Per Frankelius, Charlotte Norrman and Knut Johansen

In a research project that had been running for five years at Linköping University, Sweden, the entry of unmanned aircraft technology and sensors in global agriculture has been studied. Per Frankelius ranks the use of unmanned aircraft technology in parity with the satellite revolution or other earlier agricultural developments.

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Romania: From subsistence to agribusiness

By EAF

The 2018 European Arable Farmers (EAF) event led members in June to western Romania – one of the country’s most interesting regions and one characterised by high investment activity.

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Protein: Grain often underestimated

By Dr Christian Bickert

Protein strategies or »homegrown protein« – these are the terms when talk is of substitutes for imported soymeal such as peas, field beans or rapeseed meal. But more than half the protein in European feed troughs is already EU-produced, particularly from grain.

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Pig production in Spain: High integration and plenty space

By Christin Benecke

In Spain a couple of advantages help competitiveness in this sector. Not – as often claimed – laxer environment protection rules. But instead, efficiency right along the production chain and a positive public image.

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Doing business in Africa: The Mali example

By Marc van der Sterren

The right investments in West-Africa are those for the local market. It’s the imports and exports that give a company troubles. And the local market is big enough. Moreover: West-Africa is one enormous market.

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Agrochemicals: Bayer, Monsanto and all the others

By Doris Ahlers, Thomas Preusse

The movement that sees increasing concentration of companies in the agrochemical sector has more than a few farmers bemused. Among the reasons for the mergers and takeovers are the huge costs of developing new products. But could this revolution also be opening new perspectives in the markets?

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China: Rapid development of farmer cooperatives

By Prof. Ren Dapeng and Wei Rong

Since the mid-1980s, Chinese farmer organisations play an increasingly important role, a development  strongly supported by the July 2007 introduction of the “Law on Specialised Farmers Cooperatives”.

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Crowdfunding – for farms too!

By Thomas Künzel

Raising capital. Got a brilliant business idea? But no starting capital? Maybe you should consider crowdfunding? Credit providers in the Internet invest in projects, ideas or companies – in agriculture too.

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Ways ahead for wheat

By Christian Bickert

Harvest yields. The larger wheat harvests throughout the world are only the product of the crop’s increased yield capacities and not through expansion of growing area. This sort of situation increases harvest risks – but also the chances of higher prices. This applies even more so for barley.

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Farmland formed by man

By Thomas Preuße

Polders. Normally, soil is seen as simply the basis for growing crops. But now and again in the Netherlands one gets the impression that soil is a special substrate widely adaptable for a range of requirements.

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Polder pioneers

By Thomas Preuße

The Netherlands. The efforts involved in wresting polder land from nature have been huge. And because polder soil is fertile, scarce and therefore expensive, it’s intensively farmed. Here, we present three outstanding farming businesses in the northeastern polder and Flevopolder.

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