Run by the Ajaots family, Rannu Seeme is a large farm in the south of Estonia. What started as a five-hectare farm in the 1980s has grown into a 2,255-hectare operation, growing wheat, oilseed rape, barley, oats, rye, field beans and hay.

As well as increasing wheat yields while maintaining environmental protection, Rannu Seeme excels at research. By collaborating with Estonian research institutions, it takes an innovative approach to growing cereals. The farm is GLOBALG.A.P. accredited and has previously won Farmer of the Year in Estonia.

Madis Ajaots: Key areas of sustainable practice

Certification and assurance

Certification and assurance

The farm was accredited under the requirements of the GLOBALG.A.P. quality assurance scheme in June 2012. GLOBALG.A.P. ensures certified standards of practice in areas such as food safety/quality, environmental management, record keeping and worker welfare, which are all independently audited.

Production quality

Production quality

A Global Positioning System (GPS) is attached to the crop sprayer and fertilizer spreader, enabling accurate application of inputs and minimizing off-target applications. GPS is also fixed to the combine, which measures crop output across individual fields during harvest, allowing yield data to be used to improve future fertilizer application decisions.

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Advancing economically viable farming

Advancing economically viable farming

Producing high-quality wheat for the expanding premium milling wheat market has provided access to a secure and valuable market for the business.

The farm is a member of a large cooperative (representing a total of 80,000 hectares of farmland). The cooperative provides group purchasing of plant protection products (PPPs), fertilizers and fuel, and markets all crops produced on the farm. This has increased trading strength and reduced prices paid for inputs.

The farm undertakes field trials in partnership with two institutes. The results of these trials are shared online, at farmer meetings and at training days held on the unit. The farm’s commitment and enthusiasm to share its initiatives and good practices provide a valuable source of information and knowledge for other farmers.

Read more: Advancing economically viable farming
Soil

Soil

Average annual wheat yields produced on the farm are 7 tons per hectare. This is 50% higher than the average Estonian wheat yield of 4.63 tons per hectare. In order to achieve this level of productivity, the farm undertakes a number of practices to improve soil health and fertility.

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Biodiversity and ecosystems

Biodiversity and ecosystems

Fields over 20 hectares at Rannu Seeme are bordered by a three-meter wildlife strip and the farm has set aside 4 hectares of farmland for use as a feeding area for the local wildlife.

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Human rights and well-being

Human rights and well-being

The farm operates an apprenticeship program, providing a work placement for young people wanting to pursue a career in agriculture.

Read more: Human rights and well-being

Learn more about Madis Ajaots’ 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.

Download full case study (PDF, 2.1MB)
Madis Ajaots

“At Rannu Seeme, there are three generations of agronomists and 75 years of experience growing cereals, expanding from five hectares of land in the 1980s to 2,700 hectares in 2013. Close cooperation with Estonian research institutions, the Agricultural University and the Plant Breeding Institute have helped us implement the most current and innovative methods of growing cereals. We have established research fields to test the potential and persistence of various cereal species, along with practices designed to restrict the spread of plant disease and pests and the optimization of fertilizers. We share this information in our farm open days with more than 1,000 farmers from the Baltic region and further afield, with some of the more time-critical information shared through the internet. One of the main goals of Rannu Seeme is to be as environmentally friendly as possible, while achieving yields of the highest possible quality. Timing of the application of inputs is one of the solutions that have enabled us to achieve our goals.

The Rannu Seeme owners have been awarded ‘Farmer of the Year’ in Estonia and we are also honored to be one of the members of the strong family of McDonald’s Flagship Farms.”

Madis Ajaots Rannu Seeme, Estonia

“The changes which have occurred in the Estonian agricultural sector over the last few years have allowed the farm to prosper and expand to its current size. Although there are obvious benefits of economies of scale for such a large arable farm, the notable aspect is the aim to increase yields and quality while controlling and limiting inputs. This focused approach has allowed the farm to grow the high-quality wheat required by the milling industry, while consistently achieving yields which are 50% above the national average. Madis is eager to learn and improve crop production on his farm, working with different industry stakeholders to identify good practice, which he is then enthusiastic to share with other farmers.”

Karl Williams Operations Director, FAI Farms