Inspirational ideas: Organic and “conventional” farmers joining forces for innovation
Agricultural production system
Pest / disease control
Plant production and horticulture
Apple farmers in the “Altes Land” region (Germany) are looking for more environmentally friendly techniques in apple production
The Operational Group (OG) ‘Special area Altes Land’ in Germany is working on plant protection management strategies in fruit production to improve production whilst reducing inputs and impact on the environment.
The “Altes Land” region in north-west Germany has a 700-year history of fruit production. It is still one of the largest fruit production areas in Europe, and grows a third of all German apples.
‘Special area Altes Land’ Operational Group, financed by the EU rural development policy, is not looking specifically at organic farming but illustrates that some processes and machinery can be transferable to organic production. It will adapt a number of technologies so that they can be applied by all fruit farmers. “To achieve this aim, we decided to bring together organic and non-organic farmers as well as a number of research and advisory centres in this project”, says Hinrich Holthusen, from the OG project leader.
In both organic and conventional farming, avoiding spray drift when applying plant protection products helps to reduce adverse effects on the environment. The OG is testing tunnel-application spraying systems, fruit grower Dirk Quast: “We analyse different aspects such as the reduction of spray drift, the quantity and spread of plant protection products on the fruit and leaves, the influence on beneficial organisms and also the degree of leaf-wetting.” Vertical anti-drift nets are also being tested. These dense, 4 metre-high insect nets set up around the orchards to catch a substantial part of spray drift.