Contract sugar beet farming
In the course of the contract business, AGRANA has for many years paid attention to the advisory support of agricultural producers. The knowledge behind this advice stems from many years of experience and extensive field trials.
Performing the Farm Sustainability Assessments of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative
In the 2017|18 financial year the previously voluntary completion of the FSA questionnaire became mandatory for some contract suppliers. In accordance with the SAI FSA Implementation Framework published in June 2016, selected farmers in all five beet-growing countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia) participated in the mandatory FSA self-assessment and the external audits to SAI standards. Based on the results of the external verification, AGRANA’s Sugar segment is entitled to claim FSA gold or silver status under SAI standards for more than 75% of the statistical population of all sugar beet growers. AGRANA’s minimum requirements are fulfilled by all contract beet growers; areas of potential for improvement identified by the audits were addressed in 2018|19 as part of existing training programmes. The FSA reverification audits in accordance with the SAI requirements are scheduled for the 2020|21 financial year.
Building awareness of good agricultural practice
Besides hosting the annual BETAEXPO, which in 2019 focused on current challenges in crop-growing and specifically promoted the importance of field crop production strategies for family farms, AGRANA in 2019|20 merged its “Mont Blanc” efficiency improvement programme into AGRANA4You, a new
agricultural marketing programme managed jointly with the Starch segment.
The goal of the joint programme is to optimise and strengthen the collaboration between AGRANA and its contract farmers and thus stabilise and
ultimately increase crop production acreages and raw material volumes. In fields of contract farmers in Austria, AGRANA took about 5,000 soil samples for EUF analysis to support needs-appropriate, precision fertiliser planning. At the 75 demonstration farms across the entire beet-growing region of the AGRANA Group, 150 field tours and seven field days with a total of more than 6,000 participants were held during the growing season.
Biodiversity in sugar beet cultivation
In 2019, about 4,000 hectares were greened in Austria with the catch-crop mix from Österreichische Rübensamenzucht GmbH, a not-for-profit subsidiary of AGRANA Zucker GmbH that makes GMO-free seed (largely produced in-house) available to the contract farmers. The catch-crop loosens the soil structure, mobilises nutrients, activates the soil fauna and improves field biodiversity. In addition, flowered areas of annuals and perennials were established; together, the flowering fields provide ideal forage for wild animals, offer honey plants for bees, and add to the beauty of the landscape.