DexTerra, nestled in Germany’s agricultural heartland, is a collective of 11 local farms that came together into one larger and more efficient business.
With about 1,000 hectares growing a combination of potatoes, wheat, sugar beet, barley and maize, the farm is a great example of how to maintain the expertise, traditions and attention to detail built up over generations of family farming.
“We work with our partners from the processing and distributing industries on the development of agricultural practices and look forward to sharing experiences and new technologies with farmers from all over Europe.”
Certification and assurance
The farm is GLOBALG.A.P. assured. The environmental requirements ensure that production methods do not adversely affect the natural environment, and the assurance improves marketability of produce grown.
The business has incorporated the Argus decision support system within its blight management and pest control strategy. This ensures plant protection products (PPP) are used when there is a calculated risk, to optimize applications, which in turn reduces pesticide use and saves money.
Global positioning system (GPS) technology is fitted to the sprayer, enabling accurate application of PPP and ensuring that crops receive the correct amount of necessary product. This accurate application optimizes pest, disease and weed control.
Advancing economically viable farming
DexTerra is a merger of 11 local farms, encompassing approximately 1,000 hectares of land. This has enabled the company to restructure and streamline the businesses, benefiting from economies of scale and reducing fixed costs per hectare.
The business has diversified into renewable energy with the construction of a 700-kWh anaerobic digester. This has enabled the business to provide full-time employment to one of the families involved in the company and is also a profitable diversification development.
The digestate from the AD system is used on the farm as a natural fertilizer. This reduces the costs associated with purchasing man-made fertilizers, and results in excellent soil health and fertility.
DexTerra has adopted a minimum cultivation policy. This policy reduces costs and improves soil structure. Minimal earth disturbance also helps increase earthworm numbers, which in turn helps to improve soil structure.
Two large irrigation wells have been sunk on the farm. These, along with investment in a rain gun and reel irrigation system, ensure that crops are adequately irrigated in times of low rainfall.
The sprayer loading area on the farm has been concreted. Over 40% of pesticides found in water come from farm handling/filling areas, so shielding the surrounding environment from spillages protects local water courses and removes the risk of pollution fines.
Buffer strips 20 meters wide and sown with maize are planted along ditches to protect local waterways from any inadvertent pollution from crop-spraying. The maize harvest is used as a feedstock for the anaerobic digester.
Biodiversity and ecosystems
The business has made and erected 82 bird boxes around the farm, which had an 87% occupancy rate during the 2011 nesting season. There has also been a trial plot of flowering plants sown in one of the wheat fields to encourage increased insect activity, insects being an important food source for the local bird population.
The farm plants a strip of sunflowers alongside one of the public footpaths specifically for the local villagers to cut and take home.
A small trailer was donated to teenagers in the local community and converted into a recreation area on a piece of land just outside the village. This has helped build a strong relationship between the farming business and the local community.
Learn more about DexTerra Farm’s story
Explore the case study, where you’ll find extra details on how the farm has performed against the program’s good practice standards and criteria, what external research reveals about the producer's actions and how improved sustainability benefits them.
“The really impressive feature of DexTerra is how 11 farms have come together to form a larger, more efficient, viable business, while still maintaining the traditions and attention to detail of the small family farm. The practices implemented by DexTerra could be used by any farming business to improve their outlook and approach in this dynamic industry.”