Austria

Austria

About the Unterweger farm

Founded in

1972

Peter Unterweger took the farm over from his father in 2005

Livestock

80 dairy cows plus followers

Employees

Family farm

Area

78 ha, including

64 ha grassland,

14 ha oats, millet, triticale

Soil type

Loam, some gravel soils, medium-heavy

Annual rainfall

Approx. 1,000 mm

CLAAS machinery

ARION 410

CORTO 3200 FN

DISCO 2650

LINER 1650 TWIN

About Austria

Population

Approx. 8.7 million

Total area

8.39 million ha (20.73 million acres)

Area under cultivation

2.73 million ha (6.74 million acres)

Including 1.30 million ha (3.2 million acres) permanent grassland and 1.36 million ha (3.3 million acres) arable land.

Number of farms

166,317,

including 92% sole traders

There are a lot of good farmers who do things right.

 

Agriculture in Austria is dominated by family-run and fairly small farms. This is partly due to the natural terrain – in other words, the mountains. The Unterwegers' farm is also in a hilly region where the main emphasis is on grassland. Austria makes a virtue of its natural features, and embarked on a consistent quality strategy many years ago. The percentage of mountain farms is very high (around 40%), and there are also large numbers of organic farms (around 18%). Austria's supermarkets now offer a very wide range of regional and organic products. Currently, 9% of butter sales and 19% of milk sales are organic, and demand is increasing. Austria's farmers are also among the youngest and best educated in the European Union.

 

Even against this background, the Unterwegers' decision to convert to organic farming was a long process. "We thought about it for at least ten years," says Peter, and his wife Maria agrees: "Even having the idea 'Why not go organic?' and starting to look into things took several years." But suddenly, the decision was made.

 

This was perhaps helped by talking to colleagues, which is very important to Peter, whether they are organic or conventional farmers: "There are a lot of good farmers who do things right," he says. He believes that you have to keep learning, your whole life long.

Modern technology helps me to produce exactly the feed quality that I need.

 

What Peter likes best is being outside with nature, preparing pastures or working in the forest. "In the summer I can almost do without technology, because nothing is simpler than knocking in a few posts and leaving the cows in the pasture. But I need high-quality feed for the winter, and you only get that with efficient machines." Good service is just as important as the machines themselves. That's why Peter relies on his agricultural machinery dealer Bernhard Wölfleder, who he has known since kindergarten. When Bernhard switched from Steyr to CLAAS a few years ago, Peter was also persuaded. "The forage harvesting machines simply deliver the best quality," confirms Bernhard Wölfleder, and Peter adds: "I used to own tractors that I'd had for 20 years, and they were OK. But modern technology helps me to produce exactly the feed quality that I need."

 

Peter usually manages four cuts a year, although this varies from field to field. "Every pasture is at a different growth stage. There's also the weather risk, it's very changeable. If it's too wet, I can't always get into the meadows." So he harvests the meadows at different times. This is also the reason why he harvests his grass as bale silage instead of putting it into a clamp. It's more flexible and guarantees the same forage quality all the time, he explains. Peter mows and prepares the grass silage with his own machines, a CLAAS ARION 410 with a mower combination consisting of a CORTO and a DISCO, as well as a LINER 1650 TWIN swather. Baling and wrapping are carried out by contractors.


Picture gallery


Making-of – Behind the scenes