Alfred Stender has been recording cultivation and harvest data for every plot on his farm since the 1970s, reflecting a long commitment to the process of learning and improvement.
Kroghof Farm is a family enterprise run by Alfred and his wife Angelika, together with their daughter Silja and son Henrik, and their respective families. Their combined 182 hectares supports a diverse variety of cash crops, 75 milking cows, and 25 pigs.
The efficient usage of nutrients has always been a core value of the family’s farming practices. In 2008, Kroghof Farm took on a pioneering role when it was selected to participate as a reference farm within a water protection advisory for farmers for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive.
In conjunction with the advisory, Alfred tested a number of measures with the objective of minimizing nutrient losses and runoff. The measures included sampling, rapeseed crop weighing, manure management and nutrient budgets. Implementation was so successful, a deep drilling sample later revealed that, of all the reference farm holdings, the plot tested on the Kroghof Farm had the lowest nitrate concentrations by far (40 mg/l).
“The farm’s operational results con firm that we are headed in the right direction, but we must always engage in an ongoing process of reconsidering and reorienting our farm management,” Alfred says.
In 2016, he founded a consulting group with over 30 other farmers who now frequently meet on his farm to gether with experts in the fields of water and plant protection. Their purpose: sharing knowledge, making new findings and bringing effective methods into practice more quickly.
Alfred’s vision for the future is a full coverage advisory that provides farmers with a nationwide network of advice for sustainable agriculture.
“Too little is known about the very important issue of soil chemistry, physics and biology,” says Alfred.
“This knowledge is very much needed in order to develop awareness of the importance of soil and become a ‘real’ farmer who is responsible for all plants, soils, and animals.
In 2018, Alfred and Angelika Stender received the national Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award in recognition of their efforts to reduce nutrient runoff on their farm.
Location: Börnsdorf in northern Germany
Type of farm: Conventional crop and livestock farm (182 ha)
Main production: Various field crops, cash crops, root crops, sugar beets, potatoes, dairy cows and pigs
Key practices: Samplings, rapeseed crop weighing, nutrient budgets, crop rotation, manure management
National jury motivation: “Alfred Stender is an extraordinary and highly engaged farmer. His efforts to effectively utilize nutrients and avoid excess are at the heart of all management decisions. The jury was particularly impressed by the exceptional diversity of this conventionally managed farm, and with the fact that three families are generating their income from it. Alfred’s wide network, his willingness to discuss all topics related to sustainability and to always keep learning make him a worthy and important award recipient.”