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Swedish farm tour
I recently joined a group of international agricultural journalists for a first-hand look at Swedish agriculture. The country's total agricultural area is 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres). Animal husbandry is the dominant form of farming, with crop production popular as well. Wheat, barley and oats are the most common grains cultivated.
A stop at Hamra Farm, a dairy facility owned and operated by milking technology company DeLaval, displayed the company's commitment to automated cattle practices. The farm walks visitors through developments including automatic feeding and milking technologies.
DeLaval has developed a Volunteer Milking System (VMS), where cattle are milked at their discretion. After entering the chute, a robotic arm inspects the teats. If the machine determines the cow has been milked recently, it simply stands idle. If the cow needs milked, a trough of feed is made available and the robot cleans and milks the teats.
The entire process is monitored and reporting can be viewed on a TV or computer screen. The interface shows the progress of each teat individually, as well as other details of the entire system.
Esplunda Farm owner Per Nilsson discussed the diversification of his operation in Uppland province. He grows winter wheat, spring barley, and oil rapeseed, and raises 280 dairy calves and 8,500 pigs.
Nilsson practices minimum tillage, which consists of either one or two passes with a tine cultivator, or one pass with a tine cultivator and a pass with a disc roomer combination in the fall, followed by a harrow pass just before spring drilling. The area's soils consist of 25- to 70-percent medium to heavy clays.
Professor Tomas Rydberg of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences shows a test plot of peas using minimum tillage practices. Under Rydberg's leadership, the university conducts research in five areas: Soil tillage, soil mechanics, drainage, irrigation, and urban soil construction.
Lovstra Research Center
The Swedish Livestock Research Center, owned by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, studies animal production technology, animal welfare, and sustainable food production. The facility consists of 2,400 hectares (5,930 acres) of cropland and holds 300 head of cattle, 132 sows, 3,000 laying hens, and 1,000 broilers.
Goran Ericksson of Bruunsta Farm in Uppland province discussed his operation, which includes growing winter wheat, oats, barley, and clover, and running a bed and breakfast. His farm business has been threatened by a sudden over-population of wild boar. The animals are known for rooting around on farmland, devouring the crops planted in the field, and Ericksson's farm has been targeted in the past.
Segersta Farm, owned by former Volvo president Soren Gyll, has made hunting wild boar and other game it's business. Though they do raise beef cattle and grow feed for the herd, their main operation is managing hunting tours. The business has embraced the growing wild boar population, creating feeding stations to attract and grow the animals, which has created a tense relationship with area crop farmers.
I recently joined a group of international agricultural journalists for a first-hand look at Swedish agriculture.