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Farming insider: Adrian Knuchel, Switzerland
A family business in the truest sense: Adrian Knuchel's farm in Bätterkinden near Bern spans two sites – his parents live and work at one of them, while he lives at the other with his wife and three children. His wife Yvonne manages the farm's own shop and its seven suckler cows, while his father takes care of around 2,000 laying hens and is involved in everything that goes on around the farm. When harvest time comes around, Adrian can always count on his mother's help too. During his free time, he is involved with the civic community and is a member of the fire service, but his favorite way to spend time, of course, is with his family!
Family-owned: The farm has a family tree indicating that one of its two sites has been farmed by the Knuchel family since the 15th century.
Farm size: 40 hectares of agricultural land
Cultivated crops: Soybeans, wheat, corn, spelt, rapeseed and sunflowers. There are also cherries, walnuts and freshly planted cider apple trees in the orchard.
Features The farm has adopted an organic approach, whereby the family places great emphasis on maintaining the fertility of the soil and diversifying cultivation. The products cultivated here are processed primarily in-house and then sold directly.
For me, team spirit means being able to live and work together. It means ongoing exchange, taking each other, mutual ideas and suggestions seriously.
Why did you decide to become a farmer?
I've been part of the farming world since I was a child and I enjoyed helping my parents on the farm at an early age. Once I was old enough, they let me drive tractors, so, I really experienced agriculture right from the beginning. As the sole potential successor on the farm, I had the opportunity to take over the business.
Can you picture yourself doing anything else?
I've always known that farming is my dream job. I have a great deal of freedom to make my own decisions and ample scope in the way I work with people, the products and nature. Right now, I can't imagine doing anything other than organic farming. Another professional passion of mine is forestry, and I'm a qualified forester. That's something I've been able to practice within the business too, thanks to the woodland we own.
Is your passion for farming already rubbing off on your children?
When the whole family is working on the farm, the children are always involved too. It´s truly wonderful too see how they embrace life here and try to follow what we´re doing. They always want to go three steps further than they´re ready for. As soon as they´ve learned how to walk or ride a bike,they already want to start driving a tractor or ploughing the fields. They take the lead, embracing life on the farm and enjoying it. They make use of the space available to them.
What is particularly important to you in your work as a farmer?
I want to be sustainable in the way I farm. That means that future generations should still be able to work with our most important asset, the soil. Furthermore, it is also important to me to remain well grounded and not to set unachievable goals.
How important is independence to you?
Independence is really important. For me, it means being able to decide for myself, but also bearing the risks and responsibilities that come too. On the farm specifically, independence means that we have a huge variety of plants and animals, which contribute to risk diversification and also make the work on the farm more varied.
In your life, how important is respect?
Respect is really crucial. Everyone should show respect in both their private and professional lives towards other people, themselves and nature. Mutual appreciation makes for trusting cooperation.
How do you approach innovations and new technologies?
I follow the developments in new technical possibilities very closely. On the farm, I place great emphasis on only acquiring things I can make full use of. I can take advantage of new and suitable technologies by bringing in contractors. Over the past 15 years, we have doubled the size of the farm and have converted to organic cultivation. We started with one hectare of dessert cherries, two hectares of walnuts and shake-harvested fruits. We also began raising laying hens.
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All farmers have their own character - which is reflected in their way of life, philosophy and the form of farming and livestock breeding. We visited our farmers around the world and wanted to know what makes them successful, what they stand for and what challenges they have to face. A journey across five continents.