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Author: Kea-Lena Talbot

Companion crops kan hjælpe med at reducere dit input

Companion crops (ledsagerafgrøder) er en sekundær afgrøde, der dyrkes sammen med salgsafgrøden – og det er en vigtig del af regenerativt landbrug.

“Når det gøres rigtigt, kan companion crops tilføje næringsstoffer til jorden, reducere skadedyrsangreb på salgsafgrøden, minimere ukrudt og spare input,” siger vores konsulent David Dresen.

At vælge de rigtige companion crops kan være en glimrende måde at reducere udgifter til input. Nogle companion crops giver dig mulighed for at bruge mindre gødning ved at give næringsstoffer til salgsafgrøderne. Bælgplanter som kløver eller vikke kan tilføre N til jorden på grund af deres nitrogenfikserende evner, mens honningurt er i en symbiose med mykorrhiza-svampe, der kan gøre jordens fosfor tilgængelig. Andre companion crops kan bruges til at bekæmpe skadedyr og ukrudt, hvilket reducerer behovet for insekticider og herbicider.

Vælg derfor den rigtige companion crop i overenstemmelse med hvilke problemer du ønsker at tackle. Companion crops kan sås sammen med eller efter hovedafgrøden, men hvilken strategi der skal bruges afhænger af slagsafgrøde og companion crop. Det er vigtigt at sikre sig, at companion crop’en ikke vokser for kraftigt, og derved er i konkurrence med salgsafgrøden.

“At finde den rigtige companion crop-strategi er en delikat balance at mestre, og at sikre at dækafgrøden leverer de rigtige fordele, samtidig med at det er vigtigt at sikre, at den ikke udkonkurrerer salgsafgrøden,” siger David og tilføjer, ”Companion crops er en del af landbrugets fremtid, uanset om vi vil det eller ej. Vi kan lige så godt komme i gang med at finde en fordelagtig companion crop-strategi før det alligevel bliver en del af lovgivningen.”

At få en succesfuld companion crop kan være en udfordring, men du behøver ikke finde ud af det alene. Kontakt Agroganic i dag for at høre mere om, hvordan vores eksperter kan hjælpe dig med din companion crop-strategi.

How no till farming improves soil health

Get rid of the plow and save time and money while improving soil health and biodiversity

Intensive plowing has been an integral part of agriculture for decades, but it has also had detrimental effects on soil health and biodiversity. In recent years, no till farming and minimum till farming have emerged as a sustainable alternative. This offers numerous benefits including time and cost savings, improved soil health, and enhanced biodiversity. This blog post delves into the principles of no till farming and its advantages.

The Benefits of Minimum Soil Disturbance

No till farming is an agricultural practice that avoids disturbing the soil through plowing. Instead, seeds are placed directly into undisturbed soil using a direct drilling sowing machine. This method contrasts sharply with conventional tilling, which involves turning over the top layer of soil to prepare it for planting. The key benefits of minimum soil disturbance include:

Soil Structure and Health:

  • Plowing disrupts soil structure, destroying soil aggregates and pore spaces essential for water infiltration and root growth. No till farming preserves these structures, promoting better water retention and root development. Studies show that soiled that aren’t tilled have significantly higher water infiltration rates and better moisture retention, which are critical during dry periods.

Carbon Sequestration:

  • Tilling exposes soil organic matter to oxygen, accelerating decomposition and releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. Minimin soil disturbance practices reduce this carbon release, enhancing soil organic carbon (SOC) levels. Research indicates that no till farming can increase soil organic carbon by storing CO2 from the atmosphere. This makes it a viable strategy for mitigating climate change.

Soil Microbial Activity:

  • The undisturbed soil environment in no till systems fosters a rich microbial community. These microorganisms play vital roles in nutrient cycling, disease suppression, and organic matter decomposition. Evidence suggests that microbial biomass and diversity are significantly higher in no till soils compared to conventionally tilled soils .

Biodiversity:

  • No till farming supports greater biodiversity both above and below ground. Residue from previous crops left on the soil surface provides habitat and food for a variety of organisms, including insects, earthworms, and small mammals. Studies have shown that no till fields have higher populations of beneficial insects and earthworms, which contribute to pest control and soil health.

Economic and Operational Benefits

Beyond the ecological advantages, no till farming also offers substantial economic and operational benefits:

Cost Savings:

  • No till farming reduces the need for labor, fuel, and machinery maintenance associated with plowing. By not plowing, farmers can save on these operational costs.

Time Efficiency:

  • Plowing and tilling are time-consuming processes. No till farming streamlines planting operations, allowing for quicker field preparation and planting. This time efficiency can be particularly advantageous during narrow planting windows in the growing season.

Improved Crop Yields:

  • While the transition to no till may involve an initial adjustment period with lower yields, long-term studies have shown that no till systems can achieve comparable or even higher yields than conventional tillage systems. Improved soil moisture retention, enhanced nutrient availability, and better soil structure contribute to these yield benefits.

No till Is Here to Stay

No till farming has been seen as a bit of an experimental endeavor thus far. But with new technologies and improved direct drilling machines, it has become a proper alternative to conventional plowing. By preserving soil structure, enhancing carbon sequestration, supporting microbial activity, and promoting biodiversity, no till farming contributes to improved soil health and environmental sustainability. Additionally, the economic and operational benefits, including cost savings, time efficiency, and potential yield improvements, make no till a viable option for farmers seeking sustainable and profitable agricultural practices.

The transition to no till farming requires careful management and patience, but the long-term benefits to both the environment and farm profitability are substantial. Read more about how no till farming is a part of regenerative agriculture here.

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture 101 – understand the basics

The term regenerative agriculture has become unavoidable when talking about sustainable farming practices. But what does it mean and why is everybody suddenly talking about it?

Background

Traditional conventional farming practices have dominated farming systems around the world for decades. This has led to many adverse effects such as depleting the soil, releasing CO2, water pollution, eutrophication, and loss of biodiversity.

Due to more awareness of the environmental crises and soil health, farmers and researchers alike have focused on farming practices that mitigate these negative impacts. Many of these practices are old, traditional principles that were necessary when farming the land was harder, but some of the practices are new and only now widely available due to technological innovation.

At its heart, regenerative agriculture is centered around several core principles designed to restore and enhance the ecosystem: minimum soil disturbance, diversifying crop rotations, cover cropping, and reduction of synthetic inputs

Many other practices such as precision farming, livestock integration, biodiversity borders, addition of organic material, biostimulants, recirculated fertilizer, agroforestry, foliar fertilizer application, companion crops, living mulch, and legume integration can be valuable tools in regenerative farming, but this article focuses on the core principles.

Regenerative core principles

  • Minimum Soil Disturbance:

Traditional tilling practices disrupt soil structure, harm microbial life, and release stored CO2 into the atmosphere. Regenerative agriculture employs no-till or minimal-till techniques, preserving soil integrity and promoting carbon sequestration.

  • Diverse Crop Rotations:

Monocropping depletes soil nutrients and increases vulnerability to pests and diseases. In contrast, diverse crop rotations improve soil health, disrupt pest cycles, and enhance nutrient cycling. Studies have shown that diverse crop rotations can increase crop yields by 10-15% compared to monocropping systems .

  • Cover Cropping:

Keeping the soil covered year-round with cover crops prevents erosion, improves water retention, and enhances soil organic matter. Cover crops, such as legumes, also fix atmospheric nitrogen, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers. Evidence suggests that cover cropping can reduce soil erosion by more than 90% and increase soil organic matter by up to 1% annually.

  • Reducing Synthetic Inputs:

Excessive use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can degrade soil health and harm beneficial organisms. Regenerative practices emphasize the use of organic inputs and biological pest control methods.

Why is it not more widespread?

Despite its numerous benefits, regenerative farming is still not widely adopted. The reasons for this are complex and numerous, including lack of farmer help and education, financial incentives, and supportive policies.

It can be a complicated process to get started with regenerative farming, if you have farmed a certain way your whole life. Additionally, there might be an initial cost of new equipment, consulting, crop varieties, as well as a period of lower yields while the new system falls into place over 3-6 years. If there is no financial help or incentives to get started, it might be too great of an undertaking for many farmers to take the leap. 

Where can I learn more?

Check out our articles site where we have an array of posts covering many aspects of regenerative farming in depth. If you are a farmer or a company, who wishes to get started with regenerative farming, you can also contact us to learn more about how we can help.

How regenerative agriculture can solve our problems

Transitioning to regenerative agriculture can help mitigate the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, make work easier for farmers, and provide a more sustainable production system. Continue reading to learn more about the future of sustainable farming

Climate crisis, biodiversity crisis, pollution, CO2 emissions – agriculture is often accused of contributing to these problems, but there is a way for the agricultural sector to be part of the solution and positively contribute to the green transition: regenerative agriculture.

There are many benefits to converting but the complicated thing is that it isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. Converting to regenerative farming is a process that can take several years if you start out as a conventional or organic farmer

“But that shouldn’t discourage farmers,” says Hans Henrik Fredsted, head agronomy advisor at the Denmark-based consulting company Agroganic. “After the conversion, there are many benefits for the farmer, the climate, the environment and for society as a whole.”

The Boston Consulting Group also recently released a report on the potential of regenerative agriculture in Denmark, supporting this statement. In the report, they note that for an average conventional farmer, it could lead to up to a 40% increase in profit after a six-year transition period. Additionally, the report estimates that converting 73% of Danish agricultural land could reduce up to four megatons of CO2 per year, equivalent to 15% of Denmark’s CO2 emissions in 2030.

Regenerative agriculture is a cultivation system based on principles such as minimal soil disturbance, constant ground cover, diverse crops, and minimizing synthetic inputs while incorporating nature’s own biological processes to benefit crop cultivation. Agroganic’s mission is to help make large-scale agriculture regenerative.

Why doesn’t everyone convert today?
If regenerative agriculture has so many benefits, why don’t farmers transition immediately? Firstly, the regenerative movement is not yet on the political agenda in Denmark, even though many other countries have goals for implementation of regenerative agriculture. This means that in Denmark, there is neither help nor financial support available during the transition period if a farmer wants to convert. There is also no certification scheme in place, which would allow for farmers to apply for financial support, or for consumers to know they are choosing regenerative products.

At Agroganic, where they have worked with all types of agriculture for decades, they have no doubt that regenerative farming is the future. “The need for efficient agricultural systems that are robust, high-yielding, and environmentally responsible is greater than ever. If we want to continue farming in the future, we have to change our methods,” says Hans Henrik Fredsted.

There are also those who argue that a subsidy scheme is not necessary because the cultivation system itself is an economic advantage for farmers. There may be some truth to that, but transitioning to regenerative cultivation can be a costly investment and take time, which can result in a decrease in yield and income while the transition is ongoing. Additionally, the transition can be a steep learning curve, where the farmer has to learn a completely new way of farming, become familiar with new machinery, new technology, and new concepts. All of this requires education and assistance, which may not necessarily be readily available.

Providing this help is what Agroganic has set out to do. Agroganic is an agricultural consultancy firm based in Denmark that has been working with regenerative cultivation principles for more than 20 years, and now that the regenerative movement is gaining traction, they are ready to help and educate the farmers who want to take the leap.

Regenerative cultivation methods and benefits
One of the key principles of regenerative cultivation is to practice minimal soil disturbance, which means that the farmer doesn’t plow the field and practices minimal soil disturbance. Soil disturbance damages the soil structure and makes it vulnerable to erosion. When the soil’s pores are destroyed during soil disturbance, it impairs the soil’s ability to both retain water and drain water, leaving crops more vulnerable during periods of drought or heavy rainfall. Soil disturbance also releases CO2 and erodes humus from the soil, reducing soil fertility.

Practicing no-till cultivation increases soil organic matter, protects beneficial organisms, reduces CO2 emissions, and has the potential to improve carbon sequestration. In addition to all the beneficial aspects for soil fertility, the farmer also saves fuel, time, and labor by practicing no-till farming.

Other key approaches include having green fields year-round and cultivating diverse crops. These principles improve soil health and structure, increase the soil’s ability to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, increase biodiversity, and reduce the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

It’s not a magic button but a path to a more sustainable future.

Nutrient Stratification in No-Till Soil. What Can We Do About It?

By Frederik Vilhelm Larsen

When you practice long-term direct seeding, phosphorus and potassium can become concentrated in the top of the soil. This is particularly relevant when combining direct seeding with manure application, where the manure is typically distributed on the soil surface.

Surface application is perfectly fine for nitrogen and sulfur, since both are highly mobile and easily move deeper into the soil. The challenge lies with P and K.

Soil mobility of phosphorous and potassium

The first thing to note is that K moves in sandy soil (i.e., JB4 and below), whereas K behaves much like phosphorus above JB4. This means that K does not move within the soil profile.

Next is phosphorus (P). P does not move within the soil and only diffuses a few millimeters towards the root during plant uptake. In our directly seeded cultivation systems, we hope to recruit mycorrhizal fungi and earthworms to assist with P and K supply.

Earth worms and mycorrhiza impact nutrient availability

We often observe how earthworms can create a fertile topsoil lining along their burrows deep into the soil. Usually, plant roots follow these burrows, intuitively suggesting better P and K uptake where earthworm burrows have facilitated this. Whether mycorrhizal fungi can supply the crop with sufficient P is debated, but we can observe that direct seeding has the potential to provide favorable conditions for them to do their best.

Experiments with deep placement of P and K

In Australia, they have been conducting experiments on nutrient stratification in agricultural soil for many years. This is partly because they have a longer and more widespread tradition of direct seeding, but also because their old soil naturally has low nutrient content. Here, it has been shown that as a rule of thumb, a crop takes up 50% of its P from below 10 cm in the soil.

In the province of Queensland, over a 10-year period, the effect of a series of experiments on deep placement of P and K at a depth of 20-25 cm was investigated. Specifically, this was done as a single crop rotation allocation that could benefit several subsequent crops. P and K were placed at a depth of 25 cm and with either 25 or 50 cm row spacing. The main conclusion from the experiment was increased yields of 10-40%, primarily for spring crops. I would expect winter wheat to have a smaller response to deep placement of P and K because winter wheat can take up more P and K from the surface before the soil dries out during spring and summer.

If one were to experiment with this under Danish conditions, it would be advisable to place 30-50 kg P/ha and 80-100 kg K/ha at a depth of 25 cm when group seeding winter rapeseed in August. This way, subsequent no-till crops can benefit from this depot.

Nutrient stratification in no-till: How to take soil samples

By Frederik Vilhelm Larsen, Crop Consultant, Agroganic

Are you taking your soil samples correctly? It’s winter, and that means time for field planning but also for soil sampling. A common question we often have to address in no-till and reduced tillage agriculture is: how should we handle liming and soil sampling in non-till cultivation systems?

When is stratification an issue?

The term “stratification” means that there can be a concentration difference in the pH and nutrients in a soil profile depending on the depth. For example, if phosphorus is applied to the soil surface, there is more phosphorus available in the topmost centimeters.

It’s usually not a problem if the soil is regularly mixed by harrowing and, if necessary, plowing. If deeper soil tillage is omitted, then stratification can begin. This can be relevant if superficial harrowing (5-8cm) is primarily performed, or direct seeding is practiced.

This is something we can observe in practice. Attached figures (bottom of the article) provide some specific examples. For instance, pH is approximately 0.5 lower in the upper 10cm of the soil profile compared to the next 10cm. Similarly, there is a significant difference in phosphorus levels between the upper and lower samples in our experiment. If only regular soil samples (0-25cm) are taken, it might average out an acute issue in the top centimeters of the soil profile.

What can we use this knowledge for?

First and foremost, we must consider that the sampling depth for soil samples should match our soil cultivation history and strategy. If we don’t till the soil for an extended period and sow directly, we should be prepared to deal with local acidification in the top of the soil. Fortunately, this is not necessarily a problem and can be easily solved by applying small amounts of agricultural lime (e.g., 500-1000kg/ha) every few years to avoid falling behind.

How to deal with phosphorus stratification in plowed and no-till systems

Phosphorus stratification can be worse because phosphorus hardly moves in the soil. It becomes particularly problematic in dry years because as soon as the soil dries out, nutrients cannot move in the soil solution.

In this case, a tentative argument for rotational plowing can be made. Thus, after nutrient stratification (probably taking at least 5 years) in the top centimeters of the soil profile, turning the soil upside down and starting the process anew is possible.

If direct seeding and/or superficial harrowing are practiced, some preventive measures need to be considered. Two specific solutions are possible.

First, in a direct seeding system, work towards applying phosphorus by placing it with the seeder. Never apply on the soil surface through broad spreading. This way, P is moved a few centimeters into the soil where it is closer to the crop’s roots. Similarly, applying manure into the soil would be relevant if practically possible.

Secondly, one can consider a strategy for phosphorus application through foliar feeding directly with flat-spray nozzles on the crop. This way, P can be applied directly on crop leaves, avoiding application on the soil.

Concentration differences after many years of direct seeding show that phosphorus is very immobile in the soil. That is, if there is a risk of phosphorus leaching, it is mainly due to particle runoff from the soil surface (wind/water erosion). This is effectively eliminated by practicing direct seeding.

 

Joining the Green Revolution: Inviting Businesses to Embrace the Regenerative Movement

– How Businesses and Organizations can become regenerative

In an era where an increasing number of companies aspire to take responsibility for their production methods and contribute positively to the environment, regenerative agriculture is the path forward. This paradigm shift is not only relevant for the agricultural sector but for all organizations seeking an active role in the green transition.

Agroganic is Your Partner in Going Regenerative

Is your company currently involved in regenerative agriculture or do you aspire to be? Are you in need of a reliable partner with more than 30 years of experience? At Agroganic, we consider ourselves frontrunners in the regenerative movement, ready to assist in any context within the field.

For farmers, we offer direct assistance with agriculture-related challenges, ranging from getting started with regenerative cultivation methods to comprehending and resolving complex issues within your specific farm system. Our consultants possess extensive expertise in regenerative cultivation and are equipped with the knowledge to guide you effectively.

For companies and organizations, we extend our assistance with tasks of all sizes related to putting regenerative agriculture on the agenda. We develop action plans and provide support from the very first step toward a regenerative path.

 

In-Depth Practical Knowledge

As leaders in the field, our team of consultants have comprehensive knowledge of regenerative cultivation methods and how they can be implemented in your company. Furthermore, our team has in-depth experience with the technology involved, ranging from machinery, drones, and GPS equipment to software and apps.

So, is your company prepared to become an active participant in the regenerative movement? We are ready to assist you in making a positive difference. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your business.

2024 is the year the regenerative movement takes off

“Regenerative agriculture” has been the new buzzword for sustainable cultivation systems throughout 2023, but for the agricultural consultants at Agroganic, it signifies much more than just a buzzword. The principles of sustainable agricultural practices are exactly what Agroganic’s consultants have been working with for decades, and that’s why we have embraced the term. Agroganic aims to be in the forefront of sustainable agriculture, and throughout the past year, we’ve worked intensively to get regenerative agriculture on the agenda for our clients and major corporations. We’ve experienced more interest in regenerative methods than ever before, and 2024 could be the beginning of a new era for regenerative agriculture.

What does regenerative agriculture mean?

You may have heard the term “regenerative agriculture” thrown around, but what does it actually entail? It’s an excellent question because there is no official definition of the which principles that must be followed for a farm to be recognized as regenerative. At Agroganic, we work with four core regenerative principles: 1) Minimal soil disturbance, 2) permanent ground cover, 3) crop diversity, and 4) reduced synthetic input. This means that Agroganic’s regenerative fields are no-till, cultivated with diverse crops, using cover crops that benefit the soil, and minimal use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. All principles are aimed at cultivating the land in the most sustainable way possible. Therefore, we also believe that staying updated on the latest research in sustainable farming methods is an integral part of the regenerative movement.

 

Regenerative is future

At Agroganic, we look forward to an exciting year where we continue to promote the regenerative agenda. Our hope for 2024 is to bring more of the industry together and create projects across companies, farmers, and organizations to ensure that the regenerative movement truly takes hold.

If you are a farmer, organization, or company wanting to join the regenerative agenda, contact Agroganic today to learn more about how we can help you get started.

Choosing the Right Seed Drill for No-Till Farming

A Guide to Successful Regenerative Agriculture

No-till farming is a key principle in conservation agriculture and regenerative farming, and choosing the right seeder plays a crucial role in establishing a successful crop. As the saying goes, “Well begun is half done,” and this holds particularly true when it comes to establishing a robust crop. Achieving a uniform, healthy, and dense crop sets the foundation for a successful harvest. But what should one consider when choosing a seeder for no-till farming? This article tells you everything you need to know to make an informed decision and choose the right seeder for direct seeding.

The Difference Between No-Till Seeders and Traditional Seeders

No-till seeders must be able to handle the residues of the previous season, making them more robust. They are designed to navigate and cut through large amounts of crop residues in the field. In comparison to traditional seeders, no-till seeders usually have greater spacing between teeth or discs to allow crop residues to pass through the machine without clogging. Additionally, the seeding blades are often more expensive per unit, resulting in fewer seeding units but a greater, albeit more economically spaced, row distance. Standard seeders typically have a row spacing of about 12.5-15 cm, while direct seeders range from 16.5-25 cm.

Another significant difference is that when the soil is not plowed and homogenized before seeding, the ground can be harder in some areas than others. Therefore, direct disc seeders need a higher cutting pressure to maintain a consistent seeding depth. A traditional seeder may struggle to work in non-homogenized soil, leading to uneven seeding depths and gaps in the crop.

Disk or Tine Seeder – Which Is Better?

The first major decision is whether to choose a disc or tine seeder. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, but the choice ultimately depends on your farm.

Disc seeders are often more precise in seeding depth and can handle catch crops and large amounts of straw. However, they are generally more expensive to invest in, and adjusting the drill pressure requires more effort from the farmer. Moreover, disc seeders tend to create ‘hairpinning,’ where crop residues are pressed into the seed furrow, potentially disrupting seed contact with the soil. In wet clay soil, disc seeders can also cause side-wall-smearing of the seed furrow, leading to compaction that may negatively affect root development in the early weeks of crop germination.

Tine seeders, on the other hand, are usually cheaper and simpler. They do not cause hairpinning and have a lower risk of side-wall-smearing and compaction. However, they are typically less precise in seeding depth, potentially resulting in a less uniform establishment. They also cause more soil disturbance and have more difficulty with handling crop residues in the field.

Which One Should You Choose?

Agroganic has conducted numerous seeding demonstrations to answer this question. Our demonstrations show that, in most cases, tine seeders produce the best results, and due to their lower cost, they are the optimal choice. Especially for wet or clayey soil with low humus content, a tine seeder is the most suitable choice. If the soil is humus-rich and easy to work with, opting for a disc seeder may be a good decision. For very sandy soil, both types are a safe choice, and the decision can be based on personal preferences.

Can’t I Use the Seeder I Already Have?

Yes, you can—in some cases. If you are new to no-till and want to try out the cultivation system before investing in expensive seeders, you can use your regular Horsch Pronto or Väderstad Rapid for direct seeding. It does require a certain amount of patience, though.

Are you considering transitioning to no-till cultivation and need guidance on your investments? Contact Agroganic today to learn more about how we can help you and your agribusiness

 

Why Does Regenerative Agriculture Support the Use of Glyphosate?

The EU Commission has renewed the approval of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) for 10 years, sparking outrage among activists and environmental organizations. However, do you know the environmental consequences of the alternatives?

At Agroganic, we are happy about the decision to renew the approval of glyphosate. Some may argue that of course we are, since we are an agricultural company, but it goes deeper than that. We also value nature, biodiversity, and sustainability. If you find these perspectives contradictory, read on.

Let’s talk about the alternatives

We all want food on the table and that requires cultivating the land, including weed control in one way or another. If glyphosate is banned, there is only one alternative: mechanical soil disturbance.

Why not choose a gentler chemical alternative? Because it doesn’t exist. Roundup is the most widely used herbicide globally because it is the most tested, mild, and effective product available. It is the only broad-spectrum herbicide approved in the EU. In other parts of the world, paraquat and glufosinate are used as broad-spectrum herbicides, but they are not allowed in the EU due to their greater toxicity and environmental consequences.

If we are banned from using chemicals, the only other option is to do mechanical weed control by plowing and harrowing. The problem with this is that soil disturbance has negative consequences for the climate, soil health, and biodiversity. Plowing is inherently a total habitat demolition, destroying the living-conditions not only for weeds but also for insects, fungi, earthworms, ground-nesting bird species, and other soil-dwelling organisms. Since glyphosate only works on green plants, it is a much gentler method that affects fewer non-target organisms.

Glyphosate is the path to fewer pesticides

That’s why, at Agroganic, we believe that no-till, regenerative farming practices are part of the future of sustainable agriculture – and that includes glyphosate. Glyphosate allows us to grow our crops in more environmentally friendly ways. Those practicing regenerative agriculture at large-scale would have to shift to less sustainable methods with more pesticides if glyphosate were banned.

In regenerative cultivation, we use principles that allow us to largely avoid spraying. For example, by not tilling the soil, many beneficial insects can thrive and help control pests. This means that many regenerative farmers use much less pesticides – or none at all – compared to their conventional counterparts.

Moreover, a key element of regenerative cultivation is the use of cover crops that add nutrients to the soil, improve soil structure, and reduce leaching. However, these cover crops typically need to be destroyed with glyphosate in the spring to sow the main crop.

The amount of weed control needed in regenerative systems is typically less than in conventional and organic farming. This is because when there is no plowing, the soil seed bank is not disturbed, resulting in fewer germinating weeds. Through targeted weed control with glyphosate and without plowing, the weed seed bank in the soil will decrease over time, reducing the need for glyphosate spraying.

Regenerative agriculture is the future

The debate surrounding glyphosate is sparked by a desire for a more environmentally friendly world and a more sustainable agricultural sector. At Agroganic, we believe that a no-till, regenerative approach is the path to a more sustainable future that also accommodates nature—and that includes glyphosate for now. When transitioning to no-till cultivation, the farmer is reliant on glyphosate for weed control to successfully establish the new cultivation system.

That’s why we consider glyphosate the gentlest alternative, and we welcome the EU Commission’s decision to extend its use. If you are curious to learn more about no-till and regenerative agriculture, contact Agroganic today to find out how we can help. Read more about the Agroganic’s definition of regenerative agriculture here: https://agroganic.com/regenerative-agriculture/

How Soil Fertility Impacts Productivity

Soil fertility is the foundation for a healthy and productive crop. A fertile soil is characterized by being able to provide crops with the necessary nutrients and maintain proper drainage and water retention. Understanding how to cultivate a fertile soil is essential for a productive crop. In this article, we’ll delve into the ways in which soil fertility influences the yield and quality of crops and the importance of a well-thought-out soil management with regenerative farming practices.

The Role of Soil Fertility in Crop Productivity:

Soil fertility is primarily about the availability of essential nutrients. Healthy, fertile soil contains a balanced supply of macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and micronutrients (like iron, zinc, and copper). These nutrients are vital for plant growth, as they influence everything from root development to photosynthesis. Fertile soils also provide plants with the nutrients they need to grow and resist diseases and pests. When soil is lacking in essential nutrients, plants become stressed and are more susceptible to a range of issues, leading to reduced productivity. Fertile soil also results in higher crop yields and better-quality produce. Plants grown in nutrient-rich soil are more likely to produce larger, healthier fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Soil Management to Improve Soil Fertility:

In addition to a soil’s inherent qualities, like sand and clay content, how you manage your soil and which farming strategies you use are the key to long-term fertile soils. Conventional farming practices such as plowing can deplete the soil of carbon, and leaving the soil bare for long periods of time can cause leaching of valuable nutrients like nitrogen. How you manage your soil is highly important in ensuring soil fertility but if you adhere to regenerative farming practices, you can build up your soil’s fertility over time.

Minimal soil disturbance: Soil structure is an important and often overlooked aspect of soil fertility. A soil with a good porous crumb structure will be able to retain water for longer periods of time, which is beneficial during the more frequent droughts many farmers are currently experiencing. At the same time, a porous soil isn’t prone to waterlogging and will be able to drain off the excess water during periods with intense precipitation. Switching to no-till practices allows earthworms and microorganisms to build up the soil structure with micro and macro pores.

Crop Rotation: Another key strategy for maintaining soil fertility is crop rotation. By alternating crops, you can prevent the depletion of specific nutrients from the soil and utilize different areas of the soil profile. Different crops have varying nutrient demands, so crop rotation helps to maintain a balanced nutrient profile as well as being a key strategy to breaking pest cycles.

Cover Crops: Planting cover crops and keeping the soil covered after harvesting the cash crop can help improve the soil fertility by catching excess nutrients in the soil and making them available for the following year’s cash crop. Additionally, legume cover crops can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Cover crops can also help build soil organic matter since having growing crops in the soil year-round can allow the Liquid Carbon Pathway to occur.

Organic Matter: Organic matter, such as compost, manure or straw, is a valuable addition to soil. It improves soil structure, moisture retention, and provides a slow-release source of nutrients. Regularly adding organic matter to the soil is essential for long-term fertility.

Improve soil microbial life: Soil microbes drive a myriad of beneficial processes that are essential for a healthy soil. Increased microbial activity leads to higher nutrient availability as well as nutrient retention in the soil. Additionally, incorporating practices that encourage abundance and diversity of soil microbes improves soil aggregation, water penetration, and water retention and decreases soil erosion.

In Conclusion:

Soil fertility is the cornerstone of agricultural productivity, influencing everything from plant growth to disease resistance. It’s not just about nutrients but a delicate balance that requires thoughtful management.

Regenerative farming practices like no-till farming, crop rotation, and cover crops play crucial roles in maintaining fertile soil. These methods prevent nutrient depletion, enhance water retention, and contribute to the overall health of the soil. Prioritizing sustainable soil management practices ensures our soils remain fertile, paving the way for consistently productive crops.

 

How to store carbon in your soil with the Liquid Carbon Pathway

What is the Liquid Carbon Pathway?

The Liquid Carbon Pathway (LCP) is the process where plants turn CO2 from the atmosphere into soil carbon. The plants use some of the CO2 they take up to exude simple sugars through their roots to feed mycorrhizal fungi. By forming symbiosis with mycorrhizal fungi, the fungi help the plants access water and nutrients in exchange for carbon from their host. These root exudates are then turned into stable humus molecules by soil microorganisms. Keeping this process in mind can be an efficient way to increase the humus content in your soil.

Why is humus important?

Increasing the humus content in your soil is beneficial for several reasons like improved soil structure, better water-holding capacity, and increased nutrient availability, which all give more resilient crops.

The Liquid Carbon Pathway is the quick way to build humus in the soil. In agricultural systems, the way we usually work with increasing carbon content is by incorporating dead organic matter into the soil, which is known as the decomposition pathway (DP). It has been estimated that the LCP builds soil carbon 5-30 times faster than carbon derived from aboveground biomass decomposition so if we as farmers want to increase the carbon content of our soils, it is worth considering how we can increase the LCP.

The LCP and the DP function in fundamentally different ways and these differences are worth considering due to their impact on soil health and carbon sequestration.

The differences between LCP and DP

The DP is an aerobic process that decomposes organic matter, which releases CO2. This pathway adds carbon-rich mulch to the soil, but since decomposition is an active process, this carbon won’t stay in the soil but rather slowly disappear over time.

The LCP however, is a low oxygen process where the microbial life in the soil turns the root exudates into humus, which are very stable compounds that can stay in the soil for many years.

Both processes form new topsoil but in quite different ways. The DP adds soil carbon through the decomposition of dead organic material at the soil surface, which results in carbon being added only to the very top of the soil.

The LCP requires photosynthesis which is what makes the exudation of sugars from the plant roots possible. These sugars then undergo humification where the simple sugar exudates are joined together into the more complex and stable humus molecules. The humification is a four step process that requires an array of microorganisms including mycorrhizal fungi, nitrogen fixing bacteria, and phosphorus solubilising bacteria, all of which need their energy from the plant root exudates to exist. This process forms topsoil in much greater depth than through the DP.

LCP in agricultural ecosystems

The LCP is limited, if not absent, in agricultural soils due to currently prevalent farming practices. When the soil is disturbed by plowing and tilling, the mycorrhizal fungi are destroyed, which means that the plant-fungi symbiosis can’t form.

Additionally, most agricultural soils are still left bare for large periods of the year, but in order for the LCP to occur, there must be living, green plants growing in the soil. Mycorrhizal fungi get their energy as the simple sugars in liquid form from actively growing plants. This means that if there are no living plants growing in the soil, the LCP cannot occur, and no humus is formed.

The key to farming with the Liquid Carbon Pathway

If you want to get the benefits from the Liquid Carbon Pathway, these two things are what you need to focus on.

1) As little soil disturbance as possible. No-till practices allow for the mycorrhizal fungi to form hyphae in the soil so the symbiosis can happen. When the hyphae are left intact, the symbiosis can be established, and the LCP will be encouraged.

2) Make sure to incorporate cover crops in your rotation. Growing green plants in the soil year round by using cover crops (or living mulch, intercropping, etc) allows for photosynthesis to occur which fuels the LCP, generating humus.

Embracing these two strategies in your farming system will allow you to get the benefits from the Liquid Carbon Pathway and increase the humus content in your soil.

 

The benefits of lucerne as a perennial living mulch

In regenerative farming, we are constantly on the lookout for new methods that help us take care of and improve our soil. Frederik V. Larsen, no-till agronomy consultant with Agroganic is one of those regenerative farmers who is experimenting with new, innovative solutions, and his current project is all about finding the optimal crop to use as living mulch. His research and field experiments so far have found that lucerne might be the ideal candidate.

But what exactly is living mulch? And why is it such a valuable tool in regenerative agriculture?

Leaving the soil bare after harvest, plowing or tillage can lead to adverse effects such as erosion from wind and precipitation and loss of valuable nutrients, as well as providing conditions for weeds to germinate and grow without competition. This is part of the reason regenerative agriculture aims to have the soil covered throughout the year. Introducing a living mulch to your fields is one way to do that. A living mulch is a cover crop that is sown either before or with the cash crop and kept as a living ground cover throughout the growing season and throughout the following crops in the rotation. Growing a living mulch can help with weed suppression, soil temperature regulation, evaporation, soil structure, erosion from rain and wind, as well as nutrient retention and addition.

Many annual species have been used as cover crops, but Frederik sees the potential in perennial living mulches (a perennial cover crop), which is why he started experimenting with lucerne as a living mulch in his cereal crops. Lucerne has an array of beneficial properties that makes it a great choice as a living mulch, especially in cereals; It’s perennial, it fixes nitrogen from the air, it has a taproot, it’s herbicide tolerant, and it might help prevent the spread of fungal diseases such as septoria.

No need to resow every year

Usually, cover crops are resown every year, and often during a time where there is much else that needs doing in the field. Every time you need to establish a crop it comes with risks. With a perennial cover crop, you avoid the stress of needing to make sure the cover crop gets sown and established every single year. With no-till techniques, you can keep the lucerne as a living mulch in the ground for years while establishing a new annual cash crop into it every year.

Decreasing the need for mineral nitrogen fertilizer

Like many popular cover crop species, lucerne is a legume, which means it has nitrogen fixing abilities, and not only that, but lucerne is especially efficient at it, providing high quality biomass to the benefit of the soil fertility. Both from an environmental and economical perspective, reducing the need for mineral fertilizers is desirable, and since lucerne is capable of fixing up to 400 kgN/ha yearly or 100 kgN/ha as an off-season living mulch, it provides valuable nitrogen to the cash crop.

Less root competition

Another desirable quality of lucerne is that unlike many other legume living mulch species, it has a deep taproot. Cereal crops have shallow fibrous roots and growing a cover crop that also has fibrous roots increases the competition between these crops, which causes decreased cereal yields. The taproot allows the lucerne to grow deeper, utilizing a different part of the soil profile than the cereal, resulting in less competition between the crops.

Doesn’t compromise chemical weed management

Lucerne’s powerful taproot makes it tolerate high doses of herbicide compared to other cover crop species with shallow fibrous roots, which makes it possible to still chemically treat grass weeds without killing the lucerne.

Prevents spread of fungal diseases 

Potentially, a living mulch like lucerne also has the capacity to reduce the infection rate of fungal diseases like septoria. Research is still being done to quantify this case in the field, but the theory is as follows; Septoria infects crops by being splashed up from the ground by precipitation. However, since septoria only affects its host species, the septoria spores will become inactive when landing on the leaves of a non-host. Since living mulch provides a year-round soil cover, fewer spores are being sent into circulation by rain-soil contact. Lucerne is a non-host, so the spores will become inactive when landing on the leaves, and since the perennial lucerne is already well established before the wheat emerges, lucerne has the potential to reduce the infection rate significantly.

In conclusion, lucerne has a lot of potential as a living mulch crop, and if you want to follow Frederik and his lucerne living mulch experiments, you can find him on X as @fredVLarsen and updates from his experiments under the hashtag #livingmulch.

If you are interested in getting started with living mulch, contact us at Agroganic today to learn more about how we can help you.

 

How to plan a successful crop rotation

Growing monoculture year after year increases the risk of persistent weeds, diseases, and pests multiplying. A well thought-out crop rotation is essential for pest and weed management and is a key pillar of regenerative agriculture. Rotating between different types of crops can break pest and weed cycles while helping beneficial microbes in the soil. Here’s everything you need to know to achieve a successful crop rotation.

What are the benefits to a good crop rotation?

Different crops are vulnerable to different diseases and pests, so by rotating what crops are grown in a specific location, you can limit the propagation of diseases and pests that are associated with a specific crop. Some crops are especially vulnerable to problematic diseases, like clubroot in OSR, which can make it impossible to grow brassica species on the same fields for years to come. By rotating between not only different crop species but also different plant families, you can mitigate the propagation of such diseases.

Another benefit is that a well-planned crop rotation can utilize the input of nutrients better. Each crop takes up a specific composition of nutrients and some crops take up more of certain nutrients than others, such as OSR which takes up more sulfur than other crops. This means that rotating between different crops with different nutritional needs will get the most out of the nutrient input.

Choosing crops with different roots structures and depths makes it possible to utilize more of the nutrients in the soil. The best way to do this is to choose a crop with shallow roots first followed by a crop with deeper roots to take up any nutrients that have percolated deeper into the soil. Varying between crops with taproots and fibrous roots accesses more of the area in the root column which makes sure less of the nutrient input is wasted.

The key to a good crop rotation is planning.

For many farmers, planning the crop rotation is an afterthought but to get the optimal benefits out of your cover crop, it needs to be planned well in advance. Spending the needed time to plan it for a number of years will pay off in the future. Planning a great precrop can result in a better cash crop.

These are the ground rules to keep in mind when planning your crop rotation:

  • The more varied the better. Rotate between different species but also different plant families.
  • Remember to include your cover crops in your crop rotation. Plan the crops in a way that ensures plant cover year-round. If you harvest early, be ready to establish an early cover crop.
  • Choose crops with different root types. Shallow roots first, deep roots after.
  • Select crops that have different nutrient requirements and use it to your benefit. Use N-fixing crops before crops that have a high N demand.
  • Switch between spring sown crops and fall sown crops to get rid of different types of weeds.
  • Spend time planning and think long-term. Plan your crop rotation for a period of five years instead of one year at a time.

If you need assistance with planning your crop rotation, our plant advisors at Agroganic are ready to help! We have decades of experience with regenerative agriculture and can help you plan the crop rotation that will be most beneficial to your agribusiness. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

How to prioritize your sustainability actions

Farmers deliver food, feed, and fuel to the world, and while these services are essential, it is also necessary that they are provided in a sustainable way.

Your agricultural business, like every business, is deeply intertwined with environmental, social, and governance concerns, and this inseparable connection represents risks to avoid but also valuable opportunities to pursue if you know how to utilize them.

If you own farmland, it can be beneficial to begin your sustainability documentation to stay ahead of the curve and stand out to potential collaborators. More and more legislation that aims to protect the environment, as well as societal and governance sustainability measures, is implemented every year, and as a farmer, it can be difficult to keep track of what that means for your business. One of the newly implemented proposals for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), requires large companies to report on sustainability measures in their value chain. From next year, large companies will be required to report on sustainability in their value chain using standards developed by the EU.

That means that if you have an agribusiness that supplies, or wants to supply, produce to large companies like Nestlé, Orkla, or Unilever, or their suppliers, you have an opportunity to be more attractive to them if you have documented your sustainability actions and already know which further sustainability efforts you intend to focus on. Many farmers struggle with figuring out which sustainability actions to prioritize but that is what a “double materiality assessment” can help you with!

Sustainable development and ESG reports (Environmental, Social, and Governance) have come to stay, and Agroganic is here to help you navigate the possibilities that producing in a sustainable way and reporting on your sustainability measures offer.

What is a double materiality assessment?

A double materiality assessment is a type of sustainability and strategy analysis that will help you prioritize your sustainability actions and make it easier for you to decide which efforts to spend your time and money on.

This tool helps you identify which sustainability measures your business should prioritize while taking your specific risks and opportunities into account. The “double” in double materiality refers to assessing the importance of an activity’s impact in relation to BOTH the impact on environment and society AND the financial risks or opportunities associated with it for your company.

Sustainability actions can be taken to avoid risks of impacting the environment negatively (such as pollution), but they can also be taken to increase opportunities and to impact the environment positively. For example, if you are considering implementing regenerative farming methods in your operation, it can impact the environment positively as well as provide increased opportunities to work with big companies that demand regenerative crops.

Agroganic’s experts are ready to help

Agroganic’s team of consultants are experts in the field and have 18 years of experience with sustainability and strategy analyses from the agricultural and financial sector, and we are ready to help. Contact our strategy consultant Kirsten Marie Risbjerg at +4523225102 to learn more about how we can assist you with your double materiality assessment to prioritize your sustainability actions.

Farming in the Baltics

Running an agriculture business in the Baltics is not for the faint of heart. The enormous size of the large-scale properties takes hard work, determination, and a vast knowledge of the area to manage, and no one can do it alone.

That is how Agroganic made their entry into farming consultancy in the Baltics. Agroganic is a team of agronomy consultants that have been helping large-scale farmers in the Baltics for more than twenty years. Currently, Agroganic has clients all over the Baltic countries and helps manage almost 100,000 hectares of land.

Agroganic’s success is no coincidence, though. Our team of seasoned consultants knows all the ins and outs of dealing with the challenges that come with this type of farming and we know how to put that knowledge into action. Understanding the day to day work and the unique needs of every property is fundamental for creating financially thriving businesses.

That is why our consultants all have many years of hands-on experience with farm management. We understand how important every investment is and we know what worksand what doesn’t because we have tried it all. We have built our business on being expertsat rationalization and optimization as well as creating turnaround solutions for countless clients.

We believe that farming should be financially sustainable while being environmentally sound and that is why we have worked with regenerative principles since the very beginning. Our experience with no-till farming is unparalleled and we always keepup with the newest technologies and know how to implement them in the ways that will be most beneficial to the client.

Are you interested in working with Agroganic? Call us today at +45 2010 0096 to learn more about our work and how we can help you improve your agribusiness.

Improve soil microbial life to improve your soil

Soil microbes drive a myriad of beneficial processes that are essential for a healthy soil. Increased microbial activity leads to higher nutrient availability as well as nutrient retention in the soil and incorporating practices that encourage abundance and diversity of soil microbes improves soil aggregation, water penetration, and water retention and decreases soil erosion. All of these factors create more resilient crops as well as regenerate depleted soils.

There are billions of microorganisms for every gram of soil. The soil organisms are made up of a complex food web of primarily bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and protozoa which all impact soil health.

But what exactly makes them so important?

Bacteria make up the largest part of the soil microorganisms, both in number and volume. They live in the water film around soil particles and in the rhizosphere where they take care of many important functions. Bacteria are a very diverse group and can do anything from improve soil aggregation abilities and nutrient cycling to fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.

Fungi are important decomposers since they’re capable of breaking down lignin and other compounds that other organisms aren’t able to decompose. They also form symbiosis with plants and help them access otherwise inaccessible nutrients because their tiny hyphae allow them to take up nutrients from areas that plant roots are too big to utilize. Fungi do better in undisturbed soils where their long hyphae aren’t broken.

Nematodes directly impact nutrient availability as they consume nitrogen from feeding on bacteria and release readily available ammonium. They are also beneficial in the decomposition of organic material because their feeding accelerates the decomposition process.

Protozoa are the grazers of the soil where they feed on bacteria and fungi which releases plant-available ammonium. They consume more than 50% of bacterial productivity in soil and thereby enhance nutrient cycling to the benefit of crops.

Because of all these vital functions, taking care of soil microorganisms and improving their conditions can lead to healthier soils and more resilient crops. At Agroganic, we work WITH the soil and know the importance of taking care of the soil’s microbiome. Contact us today to learn more about regenerative farming and how you can take care of your soil’s microbial life and improve your soil health!

Companion crops can help reduce your input

Companion crops are a secondary crop grown with the cash crop and are an important part of regenerative agriculture.

“When done right, companion crops can add nutrients to the soil, reduce pest attacks on the cash crop, minimize weeds, and save input,” our consultant David Hans Dresen states.

Choosing the right companion crops can be an excellent way to reduce the amount of money spent on input. Some companion crops allow you to use less fertilizer by providing nutrients for the cash crops. Legumes like clover or vetch can add N to the soil because of their nitrogen fixing abilities while phacelia is in a symbiosis with mycorrhiza fungi that can make soil phosphorus available. Other companion crops can be used to combat pests and weeds, reducing the need for insecticides and herbicides.

Choose the companion crop(s) in accordance with which issues you want to tackle. The companion crop can be sown together with or after the main crop but which strategy to use depends on the cash crop and the companion crop. It is important to make sure the companion crop doesn’t grow too vigorously, causing it to compete with the cash crop.

“Finding the right companion crop strategy is a delicate balance to get right and making sure the cover crop delivers the right benefits while ensuring it doesn’t outcompete the cash crop is essential,” David says and adds, “Companion crops are part of the future of farming whether we want them or not. We might as well get started with finding a beneficial companion crop strategy now before legislation forces our hand.”

Getting your companion crop right can be a challenge, but you don’t have to figure it out alone. Contact Agroganic today to hear more about how our experts can help you with your companion crop strategy.

Regenerative is where realistic and ambitious meet

The path to regenerative farming is a journey, not an overnight change, but it pays off in the end. Farming regeneratively results in more resilient crops, more stable yields, less work, and reduced input costs. But how do you get started?

Few people start out as regenerative farmers, especially on a large scale, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Generally, large scale farmers will approach the journey to regenerative agriculture either as conventional or organic farmers. Being regenerative isn’t an either-or-situation but rather a scale of how well you incorporate the principles in ways that make sense for each individual field.

Agroganic has a history of large-scale conventional farming and has worked with conservation agriculture (CA) for many years before choosing to be extra ambitious and take the next step towards regenerative agriculture.

As seen from this figure from the project ‘Design for Sustainable Agrifood Systems’ by Kristine Fisker and Sara Dømler, different types of farming systems can achieve better regenerative practices, depending on their starting points. Organic farmers can achieve better regenerative results by working towards less soil disturbance, while CA farmers can work on reducing their pesticide use. Conventional farmers need to work on both their soil disturbance approach as well as their pesticide use. All three farming methods are valid starting points, and the figure shows that different measures are needed to become more regenerative in different kinds of farming systems.

Regenerative farming is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each measure will affect fields in different ways depending on the field history, soil types, and local conditions like weather, and it can take time to achieve the desired conditions. Once you have though, nature takes over many of the tasks and makes it easier to be a farmer. The benefits speak for themselves, and regenerative farming increases the resilience of your crops as well as your agribusiness.

How to move towards regenerative agriculture

There are many steps you can take already today to get started with turning your agribusiness regenerative and you don’t have to do it alone. At Agrogaric our consultants are experts in regenerative agriculture and have many years of experience with helping large scale farmers work with regenerative principles. Contact us today to here more on +45 2010 0096 or at contact@agroganic.com

 

Reasons to document your sustainable development

Your first question might be: what exactly is an ESG report? ESG stands for Environment (E), Social (S), and Governance (G), and to make an ESG report is a way to document the sustainable development of your business. In this article, we explain how ESG reports can be beneficial to you and how it works.

Farmers deliver essential food, feed and fuel to the world. Sustainability can be defined as minimizing impact on the planet while meeting the needs of consumers and communities. Your agricultural business, like every business, is deeply intertwined with environmental, social, and governance concerns and the subjects represent possibilities to pursue as well as risks to avoid.

If you own and farm land it is an advantage to begin to document your sustainable efforts and areas of actions in an ESG report sooner rather than later. ESG-reporting can help point out business opportunities as well as risks for farmers and landowners. At the same time, it serves as documentation of current sustainability efforts and progress. The documentation functions as a sustainability assurance and risk assessment to your stakeholders.

 

What are the components of the ESG report? 

The E in ESG, environmental criteria, includes the resources your company takes in, the waste it discharges, and the consequences for living beings as a result. For an agricultural enterprise important areas to focus on include water and air quality, nature and biodiversity, soil fertility, and optimal resource use. Not least, E encompasses carbon emissions and influence on climate change.

S, social criteria, addresses the relationships your company has and the reputation it fosters with the people and institutions in the communities where you farm the land and do business. For agriculture, S translates into areas such as employee well-being and working conditions, livestock health and welfare, as well as local anchoring and interaction with the local community.

G, governance, is the internal system of practices, controls, and procedures your company adopts in order to govern itself, make effective decisions, comply with law, and meet the needs of external stakeholders. Working actively with company strategy, a thorough risk management scheme, and third-party certifications, like Global GAP, are ways of establishing good governance of your company.

 

A strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) proposition can create value for you in five essential ways:

Top-line growth: A strong ESG proposition helps companies tap into new markets and expand in existing markets, while it also drives consumer preference.

Cost reductions: Resource efficiency is a step in the sustainable direction while also optimising economic outcome.

Productivity uplift: A strong ESG proposition can help attract and retain quality employees which is very desirable as employee turnover lowers productivity significantly. At the same time, it can enhance motivation and instill a sense of purpose.

Investment and asset optimisation: When it comes to ESG, it’s important to bear in mind that a do nothing approach is usually an eroding line, not a straight line. While investments to update your operations can be substantial, continuing to rely on less sustainable stables, equipment, or practises can be the most expensive option in the end. The rules of the game are shifting all the time: Bans or limitations  on less sustainable production will likely  introduce new constraints. Consumer preferences shifting market shares towards greater sustainability will affect market value of production facilities including farms that are not up to date.

Regulatory and legal interventions: Company behaviour considered unsustainable by society is prone to taxes and penalties, like carbon emissions. On the other hand, measures towards greater sustainability are sometimes subsidised by the government or the EU like subsidies for investing in green technology or eco-schemes, part of the EU CAP reform, which aim to encourage the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.

 

A strong ESG proposition might look as follows:
Top-line growth Attract customers with more sustainable products: Some very big players in the food sector like Orkla, Nestlé, and Unilever are already requesting more sustainable farming methods like conservation agriculture or regenerative agriculture from their suppliers. Achieve better access to resources including financing.
Cost reductions Lower energy consumption. Reduced pesticide use.
Productivity uplift Boost employee motivation. Attract talent through greater social credibility.
Investment and asset optimisation Enhance investment return by better allocating capital for the long term (e.g., more sustainable buildings, equipment, and processes on farm property). Ensure your farm’s market value. Avoid investments that may not pay off because of longer-term ESG issues.
Regulatory and legal interventions Documenting responsible conduct and sustainable development. Earn EU subsidies and/or government support.

 

The benefits of ESG reporting are many, and at Agroganic, our consultant Kirsten Marie Risbjerg has great experience on the topic and is ready to assist you with creating your ESG proposition. Contact us here to learn more about what ESG can do for you and how we can help you.

Meet our new consultant Jeppe Grabow!

At Agroganic, we are lucky to have Jeppe Grabow as the newest addition to our consultant team. Jeppe has many years of practical experience with large scale farming in Estonia where he was in charge of management of fields and machinery at a 2000 ha property.

Jeppe is an expert in optimizing operations on large scale agribusinesses and is passionate about helping farmers improve their practices.

My greatest strength as a consultant is the amount of practical experience I bring to the table. I know what works in the field and what doesn’t because I’ve tried most of it. I have the advantage of being able to relate to the farmer because I know the ins and outs of the day to day work in the field.”

In Estonia, Jeppe also facilitated cooperation with machinery dealers to arrange machine rentals, so he has a lot of experience with all types of farm machinery. He became an expert in identifying issues, figuring out solutions, and outsourcing assignments to make operations run as smoothly as possible. Now Jeppe has returned to Denmark to use all his knowledge in a new context.

What excites me most about the position in Agroganic is to get the opportunity to work with passionate and knowledgeable colleagues who I can learn from. I’m eager to dive into the new position of going from a hands-on approach to a consultant and I hope I can use all my experience to make a difference for other farmers.”

Jeppe will primarily work with our Danish clients in Jutland, but will also work with our clients in Estonia and the Baltics, where his experience will be invaluable.

My favorite thing is to help farmers optimize their processes and when they can see that my recommendations help their business. Many countries don’t have independent consultant services, so the prospect of giving advice from a farmer’s perspective and not a profit or sales perspective, is very interesting to me.”

Many agribusinesses are increasing in size, and Jeppe predicts that this can cause management issues if the farmers aren’t properly prepared for it. He wants to help farmers be prepared for the future and the challenges it might bring. That is also why he has worked with regenerative approaches like no-till whenever possible, especially in oil seed rape and winter wheat.

When it makes sense, why not do it? It’s less work and it’s good for the soil and for nature. I’d like to see agriculture develop in a direction that leaves more room for biodiversity.”

In the future, Jeppe will be working with precision farming as well, joining our other experts in helping clients get started with precision farming.

We are excited to have Jeppe on the team and we hope you will give him a warm welcome.

View the whole team here.

The principles of direct drilling

Direct drilling is a convenient way to establish your crop. It can save time and costs, and it’s good for the soil. During direct drilling, seeds are placed in the stubble of the previous crop without any prior soil cultivation. This leaves the soil pores intact, conserves soil moisture, and prevents germination of the soil seed bank. Minimum soil disturbance is a key principle of regenerative agriculture and is a great way to cultivate a healthy soil.

Direct drilling has many benefits but how do you make sure the conditions are optimal?

Typical issues farmers face when they want to do direct drilling are problems with wet soil, cold soil temperatures because of the layer of straw from the previous crop that prevents the soil from heating up as fast as a plowed field, and that the crops emerge later” crop advisor Kristian Thomsen states.

Luckily, there are ways to work around all of these issues.

To use direct drilling, the soil needs to be dried up enough, so the soil pores won’t be damaged when driving in the field and create water-logging. It is better to wait until the soil is dry enough than to establish early and risk closing the soil pores, preventing water from draining.

You can reduce the risk of wet soils in the spring if you make sure you have a good soil structure with a large earthworm population to create macropores, which will reduce waterlogging and create better drained fields. Establishing a good cover crop with taproots in the fall will also help draining the fields in the spring.

If you have problems with cold soil because of residual straw from the previous crop, it can be beneficial to remove the layer of straw with a straw rake, allowing the soil to warm up more quickly.

Direct drilling can cause the crops to emerge a little later than in plowed fields but this can be made up for by increasing the number of seeds when sowing. The individual plant might grow less bushy, but an increased number of plants will compensate for this” Kristian explains.

Preparing a good seedbed is essential for a well-established crop when using direct drilling to make sure the seed is placed precisely and has good contact with the soil. Choosing the right seed drill for the field is important. There are two types of direct seed drills – tine drills and disc drills. With a tine drill, a seed tine is pulled through the soil and the seed is placed behind the tine. With a disk drill, a roller disc cuts a groove in the ground where the seed is laid and the groove is pressed in again. There are pros and cons to both types.

An advantage of the tine drill is that it works well to place seeds underneath the surface of crop residue, which increases the likelihood that it will be placed in direct contact with the soil. The tine drill also creates mineralization in the groove which can help earlier germination of the seeds. The cons, however, are that there is a risk that residual plant material on the field can be dragged along with the drill, and that the tine causes slightly more soil disturbance, risking larger germination from the soil seed bank.

With disc seed drills, a disc cuts through both crop residues and cover crops, which makes it better suited for fields with larger cover crops, but there is an increased risk of hair-pinning (crop residue being pushed into the seed slot) which can compromise the seeds’ contact with the soil.

If you are just starting out with direct drilling, it can be a good idea to start with crops like peas or fava beans that have large seeds and lots of germination potential since they are less sensitive to seedbed issues. Spring barley on the other hand requires very precise drilling and optimal conditions to become well-established.

Are you eager to get started with direct drilling or do you have questions about the methods you are currently using? Contact crop advisor Kristian Thomsen at krt@agroganic.com if you would like to know more.

Get started with precision farming

Precision farming is a great tool towards a more sustainable way of farming. The available technology allows us to achieve higher yields, save costs, increase biodiversity, and attain better efficiency from field to field. The benefits are many, but how do you know where to start?

The important thing is to take it one step at a time. The possibilities with the new technology are endless and that’s why it’s necessary to start out small. Each individual farm must discover the most beneficial way to incorporate precision farming to reach its full potential.

Using precision farming for graduation of seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides can save costs, and when you redistribute your input to where it’s needed, it’s beneficial for the environment as well. Spot spraying with herbicides only where the weed actually is instead of the whole field, can save up to 60-80% of herbicide doses, depending on the weed pressure.

With rising costs of pesticides and fertilizers as well as tighter legislation, it can pay off to look into how the new technology can help your agribusiness continue to thrive in the future.

At Agroganic, our consultants are experts in precision farming and figuring out which solutions are optimal for your fields. We offer application maps for graduation of seeds and fertilizer as well as spot spraying, and we’re ready to assist with equipment and technology to find the best solution for you. We can also help you with data management: when your tractor drives in the field, it collects valuable data that holds enormous potential if you know how to utilize it. Existing data can already be used to optimize efficiency on an individual field level. Collected data can be a valuable asset in negotiations with stakeholders as it gives us the opportunity to show how we use technology and our professional knowledge to improve our farming practices for the benefit of the environment as well as our bottom line.

Figure out how precision farming can be beneficial for you and have a talk about equipment by contacting us at https://agroganic.com/contact/

The Path to Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture isn’t achieved overnight but there are many steps you can take to get you closer to that goal. No till farming is one of the key principles in regenerative agriculture and at Agroganic we have the pleasure of working with clients who dare to take this step.

One of our clients who has been practicing no till farming for many years is Niels Hansen. Niels hasn’t ploughed his fields since 2008 and doesn’t even own a plough. He stopped ploughing his oil seed rape fields in the 90s and has since only driven in his fields with his direct seeder. Instead, Niels lets the cover crops and the microorganisms do the work.

Agriculture is constantly evolving, and for Niels, improving his soil is an ongoing process. He is passionate about working with the soil instead of against it to discover which processes it can handle on its own to the benefit of both his business and nature.

There are a lot of benefits to no till farming but for Niels, the most important one is that it gets easier to be a farmer. He notes that it might take a while to restore the soil, but when you have, it does a lot of the work for you. To him, it’s a big advantage to save precious time when he doesn’t have to plough and till, and it doesn’t hurt to save money on fuel either. And then it’s even good for the soil.

Another benefit Niels has experienced is that he doesn’t have to spray with insecticides anymore and he hasn’t sprayed with fungicides for the past three years either. Instead, the soil and crops are doing the work for him. In the future, he hopes to further reduce his input of pesticides.

If Niels’ story got you interested in learning more about no till farming, our consultants at Agroganic are experts on the subject and ready to help. Contact us here,