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Farming insider: Toni Peterhans, Switzerland
Toni Peterhans lives with his family in Fislisbach, where he manages a dairy and arable farm. In 2003, he added another pillar to his business: large-scale production of silage corn bales. All this work doesn´t leave him much free time, but when he does have some, he likes to spend it on the dancefloor, at a concert or watching a football match.
Family-owned since 1960
Farm size: 60 hectares of agricultural land
Cultivated crops: Silage corn, wheat, barley, bush beans, thresher peas, sweetcorn and sugarbeet. There is also artificial, natural and ecological pastureland.
Features: 25 years ago the business recorded a stall average of 6,000 liters per cow. Now, the average is 13,400 liters per cow over 305 days of lactation. The farm therefore has one of the highest milk outputs of any in Switzerland.
Spirit and passion are what leads to success,
whether it´s in farming or on the football pitch.
Why did you decide to become a farmer – and can you picture yourself doing anything else?
I've been interested in farming since I was seven years old and I've always been very passionate about it. From a young age, it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I had already accompanied my father while he was working on the farm, and it went without saying that I would follow him into the business.
And it´s a business that has seen tremendous success over the last 25 years, as the figures show ...
Yes, back then we had 19 hectares and milk production of 90,000 liters a year, so it was a relatively small farm for Switzerland. Now we have 60 hectares and milk production of 500,000 liters. This sort of development isn't something that happens every day, because it's down to hard work rather than inheritance. What it does show, however, is that if you make the right decisions at the right time, there is always the possibility for development.
How important is it to be able to make your decisions independently?
Independence means a lot to me, and I find being independent very fulfilling. It means freedom. Having freedom and managing a business, however, also places a burden on you, because you're having to make important decisions from morning till night.
How important are respect and appreciation for you, both in your personal and your working life?
Respect is everything. It should be an integral part of our day-to-day lives. That begins with simply saying "good morning", "thank you" and "goodbye" – that's the way I was brought up. Be it personally or professionally: appreciation, respect and trust are very important to me.
How do you approach innovations and new technologies?
I tend to be cautiously optimistic. Of course I want to get ahead, but with the necessary respect, because sometimes new things are credited with more than they're able to live up to. Nevertheless, I always find out all the details before I make a decision on whether to try something out or leave it be. In the past, we have streamlined our operations a great deal, invested in machinery and optimized processes generally. At the back of our minds, meanwhile, we were always thinking; become better before you become bigger.
On the road worldwide. Always closeby.
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.