Were heading to Northern Europe this week to learn more about Danish GFN memberKnudBay Smidt and farming in Denmark, between the Northand Baltic Seas.

*English is a second language for most GFN members and responses may have been lightly edited.

Global Farmer Network member -KnudBay Smidt,Denmark

Knud Bay Smidt

Farm Description: It is a300-hectarearable farm in Denmark, located in the mainland of the country.Itsin a rural area, but still surrounded by several larger towns withinahalf anhourdrive.

The soilvariesand within few meters can change from heavy clay to light sand and shortly after spots with high humus content. Most all fields are drained,more or less,andabout10percentof our land is below sea level- protected by a bank.

We growwheat,barley,rye,oilseed,beans and grass seed plus some grass for hay production; no irrigationisavailable.

GMO crops are not allowed in Denmark yet, but we hope that the newer breeding techniqueswill be accepted and can contribute to help solving theongoingbattle against pests.

Question:What is your definition of sustainable farming?

Answer:I know what I should answer but I chose another approach;I split it into 3parts.

First what is a sustainable farmer- aperson that can adapt to theever ongoingchanges without losing her/his own soul and believing in what she/he is doing is the right way for her/him.Second-what is a sustainable farm-farm that is in such a condition and location that it’s worth to keep maintain, develop and improve. Then,third-what is sustainable farming- away topracticefarming which deliverswhat is expected at present with the atall timebest practicesknown.

Question:What farming practices are you using on your farm today that helps the sustainability of your farming operation and the soil that you are farming on?

Answer:With our location in the cold wet north part of Europe do we have arelativelyhigh content of organic material in our soil.

It simply takes longer to degrade the organic material due to the lower temperature and high moisture.

Ploughing is still the most common practice here in Denmark, but changesareunderway.

For our farm do we plant half the cropsmore or less directlyinto the stubble.

The use of cover crops is both anobligation due to environmentalrules and accepted practice among more and more farmers.We use Radish and Ryegrass.Legume is not allowed due to the rules.[It is] blamed forlooseningthe nitrogen during the early spring.

The target within the next few years is to shift from the last 25yearscrop rotation between mostly wheat, barley and oilseed planted in the autumn, to a more varied crop plan which include more grass seed, beans and spring barley.

This together with a better use of cover crop and less intensive tillage should give us a better soil and lower input cost and less use of pesticides(Controlof the weed in winter crops had become a bigger and bigger challenges the last decade).

Question:Where do you get information about sustainable farming practices that are appropriate for your farm?

Answer:We try to keep ourselvesup-to-datethrough several sources.

The internet is broadly used as inspiration to make changes,but other farmers are used for confirmation if it’sworkswell or not for them.

Question:How do you determine what practices work best on your farm?

Answer:We oftenbringin a contractor to do some fields with one or another new machine(for example,a strip till seeder)before deciding to invest or not… have seentoomuch new machinery that tooquickly endsup behind a barn and is worthnothing more than scrap value- so is becoming more hesitant to bean [early adopter].

Question:Are there specific technologies that will support the sustainability of your farming operation?

Answer:More use of yield, biomass and soil test data to determineinputs,like graduated applying of fertilizer, pesticides and lime.

Question:Do you share sustainable farming practices that you use with other farmers? ?If yes, how?

Answer:Yesfor sure, through local and global farmingforums andthrough farmers operational groups.