Shortly after the fall of the German Democratic Republic, 26 people founded an agri- cultural cooperative in Bartelshagen 1. The manager, Wilfried Lenschow, has been there since the beginning and combines his commitment to agricultural excellence with a passion for the world of birds – which has inspired many ongoing conservation efforts on the farm.
“Nature conservation has been a fundamental concern for us since the founding of our cooperative,” says Wilfried. “We wanted to show that, in addition to food production, farmers also have a responsibility to preserve and protect the natural environment.”
The farmland is a popular breeding ground for birds, and cooperative members regularly care for and maintain nesting aids and habitats for storks, swallows, and rare sand martins.
Given the cooperative’s dedication to conservation, it was only natural that the problem of eutrophication would also enter their awareness. “I had been following the subject for a long time and had already attended a number of lectures...” recalls Wilfried. “But the realization that I have it in my hands, as a farmer, to change something motivated me.”
Combining his 30 years of experience with support from an agricultural consultant, as well as state and EU programmes, Wilfried has since im- plemented several protective measures.
Experiments on integrated crop protection and fertilization have been a key part of developing a better fertilization strategy. The selection of catch crop varieties has now been adapted according to nutrient requirements. Liquid manure is spread using drag hoses on growing crops in good weather conditions and is immediately incorporated within two hours. Protective, 15–20 meter buffer zones have been added along all running water – subsequently reducing nutrient runoff by about 50%. Drainage system maintenance is also prioritized on the farm to further reduce nutrient leaching. Additionally, about 100 hectares of permanent grassland is maintained, free from fertilizers or chemicals. “By keeping broad crop rotations and catch crops, we’ve observed good pre-harvest effects which, in turn, has reduced fertilizer and pesticide expenditures,” says Wilfried of the results.
Efforts have also been received well by the community, and cooperation with local environmental associations, schools, and institutions has increased as a result. “By showing that we are serious about nature conservation, we are able to bridge the gap between environmental protection and agriculture,” says Wilfried.
In 2019, Wilfried Lenschow received the national Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award in recognition of his efforts to reduce nutrient runoff on his farm.
- Location: Marlow in northern Germany
- Type of farm: Conventional crop and livestock (3,420 ha)
- Main production: Crops, including winter rape, beets, maize, winter barley, winter wheat, grain lupines, potatoes, winter rye, oats, and grass seed. Dairy cows, suckler cows and offspring, geese, ducks guinea fowls, chickens and turkeys
- Key practices: Buffer zones, catch crops, catchment ponds, closed nutrient cycle, crop rotation, manure management, nutrient analysis, permanent grasslands, precision technology and timing, preservation of trees, shrubs and other natural elements
- National jury motivation: “Wilfried Lenschow is an extraordinary and very committed farmer. As a conventional farmer, he sets a good example and demonstrates that agriculture and environmental protection can go hand in hand. His voluntary commit meant both to the Farmers’ Association of MecklenburgVorpommern and as chairman of the NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), local group is a symbol of this compatibility. Thanks to his charismatic and enthusiastic manner, he is able to get other farmers involved in environmental protection. His networking in the region, and also his local political work as a representative of the city of Marlow, make him an outstanding role model for his colleagues. At the management level, Lenschow shows that broad crop rotation, integrated crop protection, and the production of quality products with direct marketing are possible. The balanced choice of his arable crops, with malting barley, fodder and sugar beets, oats, lupines and grass seed propagation, the exclusively in-house production of fodder and the careful handling of farm fertilizer all suggest very good on-farm nutrient management.”