Gut Piesdorf covers 837 hectares in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, an area which climatic conditions have made one of the most productive wheat regions in the EU.
Farmer Hubertus von Daniels uses these conditions, and available natural resources, to produce a high-quality milling wheat. He also strives to develop ways of increasing yields while adding less inputs to the land, and has developed a strong and important relationship with the local flour mill.
Key areas of sustainable practice
The farm is certified with GLOBALG.A.P., an assurance program inspected by an independent third-party company that covers a wide range of practices and policies around food quality and safety, environmental standards and worker welfare.
The farm is also DLG Sustainability certified. This certification comprises ecological, economic and social indicators (equivalent to the McDonald’s “three Es” approach) including: soil protection, water, resource use, biodiversity, plant protection, food safety and hygiene, safety at work, staff training and the impacts of agriculture on the climate.
Soil testing for nitrogen is carried out in spring to ensure nitrogen application rates are matched to soil reserves and plant requirements, reducing over-application and losses.
In early summer, wheat leaf samples are taken and used to calculate the plants’ nitrogen levels. Nitrogen applications are then matched to crop requirements to ensure protein levels in the seed meet milling quality requirements.
Management practices over the last 25 years have increased soil humus levels, which increases the water-holding capacity of soil and improves its CO2 sequestration potential.
A rainwater-harvesting system on the roof of the grain store collects water for use in the sprayer.
The farm has significantly increased the use of organic manures to improve soil structure and lowered input costs by reducing the amount of artificial nitrogen, potash and phosphate fertilizers needed. This, in turn, has reduced the farm’s carbon footprint, as artificial nitrogen fertilizers in particular are highly energy-intensive to manufacture.
Gut Piesdorf and buyer Saalmuhle have identified the importance of working together to improve food safety, which requires a farm-to-table approach and is based on risk analysis and sharing responsibilities to reduce potential hazards. This includes a pre-harvest risk assessment that enables the farm to implement measures to mitigate any identified risks, such as the application of a fungicide.
All the grain is air-cooled, which eliminates the need for chemicals to control storage pests. This also reduces the risk of mycotoxin growth and improves food safety.
The farm has invested in the N-Sensor, a tractor-mounted tool that measures the percentage of light reflected from the crop as the tractor passes through the field. This information allows the N-Sensor to measure the crop’s nitrogen requirement and automatically vary the fertilizer application rates accordingly. The system has reduced nitrogen fertilizer use on the farm by 5%, with no loss of yield.
A Global Positioning System (GPS) is fitted to the sprayer, limiting application inaccuracies by automatically switching off sprayer boom sections when they pass over a previously treated area, or if they go beyond the field boundaries. Improving application accuracy saves on inputs, limits crop stress and reduces application time.
Learn more about Hubertus von Daniels’ 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.
“In Piesdorf, the soil fertility and climate conditions give us the opportunity to grow high-quality premium wheat. Achieving this potential under the principles of sustainability has been the key aim of our farming for several years. I am delighted that McDonald’s recognizes these efforts and has selected us as a Flagship Farm.
It gives us the opportunity to communicate the benefits of sustainable agriculture to the public and to share experiences with the community of Flagship Farmers.”
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“We want to be as environmentally friendly as possible, while achieving yields of the highest quality.”
“By ensuring we stay focused, we aim to improve the land and its productivity.”