Study visit to the Western Transdanubia

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During the two-days journey which was oriented to the Western Transdanubia region, the youth visited the farm of András Takács in Szákszend and Attila Koicz's in Kisigmánd.

András Takács maintains about a 350-hectares land at the side of the village. He grows corn on more than half of the soil, while he also sows sunflower, wheat and rape for the crop rotation. As a young farmer, he attained support, then joined to the AKG programme, thanks to these the scale of his plants widened by soybean. According to András, there's no development without engineering improvement, because the inexpensive solutions almost every time cost more in the end. The investments always target to lower the total expenditure and improve efficiency. With the newer and more efficient combine, the harvest goes faster, and with the precision sowing machine, he has to buy less seeds and the plants are arranged more evenly. Driven from providence, the farmer applied for a 12 rows wide, pesticide-ejecting cultivator from the EU rural development programme.
Even if he has gained so much experience and practice, he is still glad to receive advice, because it helps him a lot in the sphere of supports.
The next destination was the Kozicz farmland in Kisigmánd. Attila keeps 3 x 1500 porkers in 4 buildings each year at quite modern conditions. The pigs raise on a grid platform, so the manure immediately gets contained in a reservoir under them until the selling of the pigs. At that point, they empty it to the 20 m3 sized central tank. One of the great advantages of this method is that the fatty components of the manure floats on the top, sealing it, this way it eliminates almost completely the unpleasant smell and hazards. Three older buildings and a new, fully automated piggery belong to the farm, and also a brand new manure-storing facility at the side of the village. Father and son manage business in a remarkable way of co-operation here.

The next stop of the trip was in Börcs, at the farmland of Róbert Rácz, young grower and his family. This enterprise is a teamwork of 4 families, cultivating 360 hectares of land. In this area, poppy seed, wheat, rape and corn is produced. There are two granaries in the plant. One of them was built from their fund, the other one was built from credit. They keep looking for further development and support opportunities. They have won three supports so far: financing a soil sprayer, a sowing machine and the launching of young farmers. They make the harvest and drying work done by lease-workers. They have even two pensioner workers but they take the job only seasonally. The company is contracted to supply only the poppy seed, all the others are sold on the free market.

The next location was the Fliegl Abda Ltd. It's a factory, where agricultural machinery and equipments are produced, for example concrete mixers, manure spreaders and even reservoir-emptying trucks. The company was founded in Germany, in the year 1975. This plant in Abda was established in 1993. Since then they have manufactured agricultural and road trailers, other machinery, parts and adapters. Beside that, here's the trade centre of the East-European region, and this is the company's export point in this direction. The factory's Hungarian relationship looks back to the time when Mezőgép was run, because mixers were produced here and taken to Germany those times already. They store 10 thousands tons of raw material. They have more store-houses, one of them is a 4000 squaremetres cold store, where all the necessary parts for manufacturing a trailer are kept, so thus they can fulfil an order with even very short deadline. The other one is an automated store-house. They solve the transportation of the products by 6 of their own trucks and involving many sub-contractors.
They also make so-called “no name” products, which are labelled later and forwarded by partner companies as a different brand. They have their own service hall and examination base, so they can release the machines immediately.
The factory ensures the living of 450 families currently. The family enterprise has financed all its investments from their own fund, so it suffered from the downturn of the last few years, but survived and didn't have to close.

The next stop was Kóny, where the youth visited Ákos Polgár's family enterprise. They breed potato and onions, and also produce soybeans and corn sowing-seeds. The company was born by the co-operation of two young farmers. They hire four employees and have 400 hectares of land. It's difficult to extend the soil, because most of the farms are properties of foreigners. The hall, which  the group visited was under construction. It is an old building that belonged to the Körmend shoe factory originally. They had to choose reconstruction, because the cost of a brand new building would reach 100 million Hungarian Forints [about 346 thousand Euros] and the three applications for this project had been rejected due to insufficient funds.
They can bring the potato and onion in 5, 10 and 25-kilogram packages with a machine imported from Germany. They sell for Lidl. Their production is mechanized completely: the potato is collected by a proper machine, then moved to the plant by a chained trailer. Next, it passes through an automated sorting system, and finally gets packed. The onion has to be stored at the temperature of 10 to 12 °C. The water for irrigation is pumped from a well and then sprinkled by a micro-spraying system.

The next station was István Pozsgai's company in Szárföld. They breed pigs and poultry. The pig-farm has two stables. They have 1000 swine in total. The farmer only feeds them up. For a long time he only had worked with Hungarian livestock, but this year he bought animals from Germany. Vaccination is important to avoid the high costs of medicines and vets. He uses “ad libitum” feeding method, which means that the forage is always in the face of the animal, so it can have as much of it as it wants anytime. This is the fastest way to have them in the proper weight for selling. The 340 Hungarian Forints price [about 1.18 Euro] seem to be the lowest, for which he can buy a pig that still can be fattened, but it's economical only if he doesn't have to buy much additional forage and medicines. The plant is part of a former LPG [agricultural production comradeship], where four farmers work.
The chicken livestock consists 9000 pieces. The airing is done by vents, smaller ones used in winter and higher performance ones in summer. Luckily, diseases are rare. They usually take the chickens – many times just a few hundreds of them – to small slaughterhouses due to the headcount. They start to sort the chickens at the age of 5 and a half weeks. After a 10 to 14-days break at the end of transportation, they sterilize the hutches and prepare to receive the new livestock. An automatic feeding system operates. They feed up 5 to 6 shifts a year.

The next stop of the journey was in Lébény, where the group could see the farmland of Attila Matsek. They also grow potato and onion. They have just bought a plant, where they plan the further developments to. They have their own packing machine, two people help the packing procedure. This way they can load a truck full in one day. They currently store 500 to 600 tons of potato. Unfortunately they could sell a minimal amount since the harvest. They pack the onions mostly for 10 kilograms, CBA [a Hungarian shop-chain] buys most of it. The relationship and co-operation goes very well between the farmers here. They utilize micro-spraying irrigation system, since it's much more efficient and economical than the older one. Moreover, it has the advantage, that it doesn't compress the soil. They keep improving the machinery, although this year they had less investments due to the unusual, lower market prices and the difficulties of selling.

The last location of the programme series was the Zeiler Hungária Ltd. near to Lébény. The company grows cocktail tomato on 62 thousand squaremetres. It is done in a greenhouse, heated with the aid of a hot spring. The top height of the greenhouse is 9 metres. The side-walls are made of 6-chambered polycarbonate, while the roof is constructed of glass. There are 250 thousand roots of tomato here. They plant the tomato once a year, usually between the end of November and the start of December. The plants produce tomato for 10 months. It's a continually growing species and has to be let growing freely. They lead the stems in a specific way, so thus it can reach several 10 metres long. The plantation of the autumn starts to give tomato in the early March. The tomato has to be sorted once in five days.
They have two species of Cherry, the difference between them is only their size. They don't use any pesticides, since these are disease-resistant ones, they only utilize useful insects against pests. The growing technology is Dutch, the foreigner company comes every month to check if the breeding goes on properly and if they comply with the rules. It's 17 to 18 °C for three weeks during the time of planting, then the temperature is being raised to 20 or 22 °C gradually. Heating is done by the 70 °C hot water of the hot spring, and the used water is taken away by a canal-system (recycling is not compulsory here). Heating is mostly solved in low hoses. The cooling is done by opening the cells of the roof in the summer, which action is controlled by an automatic system. Rainwater is used for irrigation. They can gather sufficient amount of water on the top of the greenhouse. Rainwater is softer than the water pumped from a well, so they utilize a nutrient solution with different composition. In Hungary, they supply mostly SPAR, but they also export a significant amount.