Integration and collaboration

We often hear how other countries like Germany are performing better in the productivity stakes than the UK. A group of farmers from the UK visited to find out more…

It was clear to me that many farms in East Germany are still suffering from collectivisation. The ones that aren’t, however, are fantastic examples of how collaborative ventures and co-operatives can work well. That is, as long as everyone is pulling in the same direction.

The good businesses put a lot of importance on training and high standards of workmanship and I wonder whether this could be one of the reasons why their productivity is higher than in the UK.

If collaboration is the first major point I took from the visit, then the second would have to be integration.

Agricultural Environmental Schemes and related renewable energy grants in Germany have driven more diversification. German farms definitely integrate this beneficially and sustainably into their businesses so everything works together.

We also visited an organic, integrated mixed family farm which showed us the importance of attention to detail, making the most of what you already have. They had managed to run a small farming operation sustainably and viably by doing three things:

  • Cutting out some major fixed and variable costs like owned machinery, fertiliser, sprays and utilising contractors
  • Being realistic and honest with yourself – so not just doing something because you want to or like doing it
  • Implementing precise and beneficial cropping strategies.

So, two major things for me – best practice of integration of enterprises (including Agricultural Environment Schemes) and collaboration – economies of scale.

Wheat harvest in an LPG in 1986

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1986-0813-020 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (], via Wikimedia Commons



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