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A peek at a European approach to sustainability

This is a week of international travel for Farm Industry News team members with Kathy Huting in South America, and me in Europe. In Germany, I was part of a media tour to a farm near Monheim that's applying a range of sustainable practices aimed at boosting biodiversity and preserving the environment. While some of the ideas may not leave the region, this gallery offers a glimpse into the ideas driving some changes we may be hearing more about in the United States.

Sustainability is often viewed as more "buzzword" than practice for the cynical journalist, mere lip service to an idea, yet at this farm - called Damianshof - Bayer CropScience is working with the farmer to put a range of ideas into practice. This gallery offers a look at some of those approaches including some innovations that we think you'll find interesting.

Damianshof is a 170-hectare, about 350-acre, operation that includes three farms. The size of the operation is about 3 times the average for the region and shows the forward-looking approach for this sixth generation operation. Bernd Olligs is that sixth generation farmer who is guiding the business forward in a region of the world where increased scrutiny of every farm practice is just part of the mix.

Olligs told a group of international journalists that the supports he receives for his operation - about 330-euro per hectare - is paid in part to help farmers meet the rising number of rules and regulations they face. "If there were fewer rules," Olligs says with the help of an interpreter, "we would have less need for those payments."

The farm raises potatoes, sugar beet, winter wheat and barley, oilseed rape, and some corn for biogas silage (biogas is a growing industry in Germany as a power source and those animals need feed). He sells most of his crops locally where there is need for potatoes, flour and sugar, Olligs says.

Take a look at this gallery, to see some sustainability ideas Olligs, along with Bayer CropSciences, are putting to work. Views from other parts of the world help us all understand the changing nature of global agriculture.

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