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Franz Kastenhuber: Appreciate the small ideas

Interview by Erminia Ciarleglio, DLG

Franz Kastenhuber from Austria has been a member of the DLG since 2002. At the DLG events, as a practical farmer and teacher of crop production at the Agricultural Training Centre Lambach, the exchange of ideas with professional colleagues is important to him.

Mr Kastenhuber, please introduce yourself and your farm.

With my wife I manage a farm with 40 ha of arable land, 5 ha of grassland and 4.5 ha of forest in Bad Wimsbach-Neydharting, Upper Austria. We keep 150 fattening pigs and are an experimental farm of the AGES (Agency for Food Safety) for variety testing and an experimental farm of the Chamber of Agriculture for Upper Austria. We also do field trials together with companies and institutes.

I am a crop production teacher at the Lambach Agricultural Training Centre. Our farm is also a practical farm of this agricultural college, which is 3 km away. For the students, I try to make sure that they can learn new and interesting things, but also basic things. It is also important to me that we can supervise experiments together.

We also do a lot of field inspections on our farm and show our new ideas and developments to the participants of master classes or working groups and other professional colleagues.

All three sons have completed agricultural training; two of them also attended an agricultural university. The eldest son is an agricultural advisor at the Chamber of Agriculture.

Music is the hobby of the whole family: four trumpet players, organist, church choir, hunting horn blowers and brass band.

You set up a lot of crop trials. On which crops are these trials carried out?

We set up many different crop production trials on our arable land. As a teacher of crop production, it is important to me to present the students, but also other farmers, with a variety of options from which everyone can develop individual solutions.

  • Variety trials for grain maize, silage maize, winter wheat, winter barley, winter rape, soybean;
  • State variety trials for wheat, barley, soya, grain maize, silage maize;
  • Growth regulator trials (for 20 years) in barley and wheat;
  • Fungicide trials (since 1995) in barley, wheat, maize;
  • Seed density trials in barley and wheat;
  • Fertiliser trials on maize, barley and wheat;
  • Intercrop trials;
  • Herbicide trials;
  • Crop rotation trials.

All trials are repeated several times and randomised and are harvested with our own combine harvesters.

With whom do you cooperate in your crop production trials?

The most important partner for this work is the Chamber of Agriculture of Upper Austria; cooperation with AGES (Agency for Food Safety) is also important. In addition, there were and are many partners from the plant cultivation industry, agricultural technology, water conservation advice, etc. with whom we set up joint projects and trials. And every year there is a field day in cooperation with the Chamber of Agriculture, the AGES, the Association of Graduates of the Agricultural College Lambach and the magazine "Der fortschrittliche Landwirt".

What options do farmers have to lead their farm into the future?

In my opinion, there is not only one right way. Everyone has to assess for themselves which factors are decisive for their own farm and where they want to stand in the future. In addition to economic questions, one should therefore also ask oneself about personal values. In any case, the following points are important to me:

  • Be open and don't let yourself be chased somewhere;
  • Be curious and keep experimenting;
  • Income combinations are becoming increasingly important;
  • The family farm is typical in our area;
  • Our farm will always try "new things";
  • A healthy financial basis is important;
  • Conservation and preservation of valuable arable land (this is the biggest challenge for the future).

In June, the DLG Field Days will take place at the Kirchgartshausen Experimental Farm. Will you visit the fair?

If I am not hindered by my own trial work, I will visit it. I have already been there a few times and was always enthusiastic about the new ideas, the variety, but also the smaller ideas. The exchange of ideas is extremely valuable.

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