Geigle studies German agriculture
Wed, 03/08/2017 - 10:08am admin
The big deal in Germany is getting energy from agriculture by-products,” said Geigle.
Josh Geigle is a rancher in the Wall area. He is also the Pennington County Farm Bureau president. Geigle was one of four Americans who were granted an agricultural tour of Germany.
The American Council on Germany sponsors the McCloy Leadership Mission on Agriculture, Food Security, and Resource Scarcity (originally known as the McCloy Fellowship in Agriculture). In alternating years, four members of the Deutscher Bauernverband (German Farmers’ Association) tour American agriculture, then four American Farm Bureau members tour German agriculture.
The four Americans visited Germany from Oct. 16-28, 2016, to exchange knowledge and practices with their German counterparts. The four were Geigle, Dr. Elizabeth Kohtz, a dairy veterinarian and farmer from Idaho, Ben LaCross, a farmer from Michigan who raises cherries, and Hilary Maricle, a farmer and county commissioner in Nebraska.
Geigle had to convert metric weights and measures, such as hectares to acres, but got fairly good at it.
The first four days, they met with government agriculture officials, learning about government regulations. Geigle said there is very little agriculture representation in the German parliament. He said, after the German Democratic Republic was dissolved, the government gave back the land to the former landowners who were running it for the government. In eastern Germany, the smaller operations benefited by creating huge cooperatives that now might include bulls, hogs, dairy and crop ground. In western Germany, the smaller ranches are more specialized.
During the trip, the tours were arranged by, or personally guided by, previous recipients of the McCloy Fellowship. They toured food processing facilities, farms, ranches and cooperative operations. They discussed sustainable farming and renewable energy through agriculture.
Geigle said the dairy he toured has robotic milkers that read the ear tags of each cow. The computer records everything, even denying milking a cow that has returned too soon (wanting to get its share of grain during milking).
They toured the KRONE agriculture equipment manufacturing company. Equipment can be only nine feet wide as it goes down the roads. Geigle saw a tractor that had a harrow for leveling, a roller/packer, rototiller and grain drill that were set up to all operate in one pass. Methane digesters are far faster than composting, and the products are used to heat buildings. “The big deal in Germany is getting energy from agriculture by-products,” said Geigle. He said that they grow corn, but use it as silage for energy.
One ranch has been in the same family since the 1330s. Geigle was amazed that one ranch keeps it cattle indoors on slatted floors, and it works for them. The animal rights movement has caused ranchers to not create steers, but to feed them out as bulls.
“Our eating experience over there was good, except for only one steak,” said Geigle. Germany does not allow hormone treated stock, thus does not import U.S. beef. German beef is home grown or from Argentina or African countries. “Good? Yes. As good as ours ... maybe.”
The four Americans were required to write reports, more of an executive summary than a daily journal. Through all the details, Geigle can summarize it with, “It was a great experience to view agriculture in another country.”