Germany

The zum Felde farm, Jork, Germany

About the business

Started in

The zum Felde family dates back to the 13th century

Peter zum Felde took over the farm from his father in 1988

Livestock

-

Personnel

Mr zum Felde and his son.

2-5 temporary employees during the season.

Area under cultivation

20 ha, including

19 ha apples

1 ha sweet cherries

(From 2015, apples will be grown on the sweet cherry plot)

Crop rotation

-

Soil type

Alluvial land or marsh soil

Annual precipitation

Around 730 mm

Machinery

3 NEXOS 230 F

About fruit growing in Germany

Main fruit-growing areas

Altes Land

Lake Constance region

Rhine/Neckar region

Saxony

Number of fruit farms

Approx. 7,000

Average farm size

8 Hectares

"High-tech has even found its way into fruit growing"

 

Peter zum Felde gives a wry smile in response to the suggestion that this centuries-old fruit-growing tradition is a romantic business. "High-tech has even found its way into fruit growing", he explains. "For example, in storage. Every kilo of fruit is placed in a ULO store. This stands for 'Ultra-Low-Oxygen'. The store is completely gas-tight and the oxygen level is reduced to six per cent. At the same time, the CO2 level is increased slightly, to around one to three per cent, depending on the variety. The temperature fluctuates between 0.5 and 3.5 degrees depending on the variety." He describes how control systems for other key processes, such as sorting and cleaning, also use state of the art technology.

 

The family's land has seen a lot of changes over the centuries. There used to be 300 to 500 trees per hectare, grown as standard trees, whereas the farm now has 2,500 to 3,000 trees per hectare. Nowadays, commercial fruit growers usually grow dwarf trees as they produce higher yields and it is much easier to look after the trees and harvest the crops.

 

Every tree is treated individually, from pruning and general tree care right through to harvest. Talking about his work, Peter zum Felde says, "I know every single one of my trees and visit them several times a year," and describes crop regulation strategies, pest and disease control and the three laws of pruning which have been valid since the beginning of the 19th century and still hold true today.

"I have fitted all my machines with low-compaction tyres."

 

With organic fruit farming no chemical sprays or artificial fertilisers are used. Instead, only products made from natural materials are permitted, together with a few other recognised products. "We can use products such as sulphur and copper preparations to combat fungal infections," he explains.

 

Peter zum Felde believes that the soil is his biggest asset. "We have to manage it in a balanced way and we actively enrich the soil, for example by adding compost." The tyres he uses are also important: "I have fitted all my machines with low-compaction tyres. The normal rotation period for a tree is 15 to 20 years. When you're clearing old trees, you may dig out a tree carefully and find its roots in the middle of the track. Using wide tyres protects the ground and allows the soil to create a steady supply of nutrients for the trees."

 

Peter zum Felde hopes to hand his farm over to his son in a few years' time. For this reason in particular, sustainability has become increasingly important to him in recent years: "I plan to hand over to my son in five years or so, and I want him to take on an orchard that's well managed, can exist as an economic unit and can also feed a family. And that will only happen if we work with nature."


Picture gallery


Making-of – Behind the scenes