The farmer’s interest in the technology and his high motivation to achieve improvements led to reorganizing the 16-hectare mountain farm (South Tyrol, NE Italy) and to the organic certification in January 2018. There is room for testing new ideas thanks to the second business segment “Farm Holidays”. The actual innovation of the farm results from the interaction of several sub-innovations, which enable more cost-effective production and improved working conditions.
The dairy cattle are kept using the system of short sward grazing (German: Kurzrasenweide) in a way that the use of concentrates is low and the acquisition of external feed is hardly necessary. Following early mowing, the animals graze on the mowing pastures around the farm buildings from mid-April to the end of October and are only brought into the stable for milking. This requires livestock breeds (Braunvieh, Jersey) suitable for grazing, which can cover their energy demand from pasture herbage. The long grazing period reduces both fuel costs and working hours and facilitates the work on the farm. In winter, the animals are supplied with the farm’s own high-quality dry forage. The high roughage quality combined with reduced forage production costs is guaranteed by a well-functioning barn-drying system in combination with a dehumidifier and photovoltaic modules.
In order to be able to work effectively with the short sward grazing system, it is necessary to have sufficient contiguous areas located around the farm buildings and a dense sward resistant to trampling as well as comprehensive technical competence. However, the grassland needs to be constantly monitored and a quick reaction to the weather conditions is required.
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