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Farmer of the Year: Interview with Benedikt Bösel

Originally an investment banker, the 38-year-old has been acting as experimenter, researcher, explorer and farmer all in one since 2016. On his 3,000-hectare farm, he now devotes himself to arable farming as well as livestock and forestry. In order to share all the information and findings of his multifaceted agricultural concept with scientific partners, other farmers and aspiring young entrepreneurs, he founded the Finck Foundation. In the interview, he provides insight into his goals and visions for the future.

What would your agricultural world look like in the best case?

The ecosystem of a meaningful agriculture that produces good-tasting food would have to be adapted to the respective conditions and characteristics of the location, such as the nutrient content of the soil or the prevailing weather conditions. The be-all and end-all of our agricultural production systems should be, apart from the production of high-quality food, the improvement of the soil, the promotion of biodiversity, the animal-friendly handling of livestock and the strengthening of the socio-cultural structure of the region so that the people who live there are well off. And all this with a decent income for the agricultural operators and their future generations.

You practise animal husbandry, arable farming and forestry and break new ground in the process. Can you give a few examples?

My team and I want to get away from the classical division and the setting of operational priorities, and we want to move towards a multifunctional overall construct. We want to close cycles. One example: We are cultivating agroforestry strips of 60 different fruit varieties, 30 nut and berry varieties and researching how this can influence humus development and water retention in the soil. And we sow undercrops and catch crops in the fields and let the animals graze outside all year round. They eat the catch crops, which in turn saves us feed costs. Or we try out how we can supply the very sandy soils in Alt Madlitz in Brandenburg with more microorganisms through composting. All this becomes a farm system where each part has positive influences on the other.

In public discussions, cows are often regarded as climate killers. How do you see that?

That is a judgement that is completely unjustified. For me, the function of cattle on our fields is to build up humus, increase photosynthesis, use natural fodder, close the nutrient cycle, store water in the soil, and at the end, as a kind of by-product, there is the high-quality meat. So we don't judge the cow by the meat, but by all the positive functions it performs for us.

For me, the cow is, among other things, an essential driver for improving the climate and an activator of the water cycle to cool down the planet. It also eats food that we humans could not use as food at all. The cow is not the problem, we have completely different challenges.

Wie können andere landwirtschaftliche Betriebe von Ihren Erfahrungen profitieren?

Es gibt keine universelle Lösung für alle landwirtschaftlichen Herausforderungen. Was in unserem Betrieb richtig ist, kann auf einem anderen Hof vielleicht nicht funktionieren. Wichtig ist, darauf zu schauen, wie die Natur reagiert und welche natürlichen Regeln an einem Standort herrschen. Vor zwei Jahren habe ich eine Stiftung gegründet, damit wir all unsere wissenschaftlichen Daten und Erkenntnisse anderen Forschern, Landwirten und jungen Unternehmern zur Verfügung stellen können, damit sie diese für sich nutzen und daraus lernen können. Wir haben rund 3000 Besucher pro Jahr. 90 Prozent der Landwirte erkennen zum Beispiel an, dass Agroforst Sinn macht. Wir benötigen aber noch etwa fünf Jahre, bis wir unsere ganzen Ergebnisse bis hin zur Ertragsseite ausgewertet haben. Im März kommt mein erstes Buch heraus. Es heißt „Rebellen der Erde – Wie wir den Boden retten und damit uns selbst!“

Wie sehen Ihre Ziele aus?

Wir müssen vom Bekämpfen der Symptome durch Technologie abkommen und hin zur Veränderung unserer Systeme, um die Kernursachen zu verändern. Etwas auszuprobieren ist Kern der Landwirtschaft, und nur so können wir uns der Natur annähern. Auf meinem Betrieb suchen wir profitable Geschäftsmodelle, die im Einklang mit dem Ökosystem stehen. Außerdem wollen wir aufzeigen, wie ausgesprochen wichtig die Landwirtschaft ist. Denn nur sie kann alles: das Klima schützen, die Mittel produzieren, die wir zum Leben benötigen, und die Artenvielfalt steigern. Ich bin davon überzeugt, dass die Landwirtschaft einen großen Zulauf erfahren wird. Aber sie benötigt Wertschätzung und Respekt.

Did you regret changing jobs?

When I was at the bank, I thought I had learned to work. When I started as a farmer, I thought, now I know what work is. I know the feeling of being a farmer in dry Brandenburg. I have sleepless nights when it doesn't rain for ages and our pine monoculture is a ticking time bomb. But I don't regret it for a second. I am exactly where I belong. Agriculture is the most direct lever to solve the big problems of our time.

This interview and further information on the topic of "sustainable agriculture" can be found on the website and in the magazine Stadt.Land.Wissen of our cooperation partner Forum Moderne Landwirtschaft at

Benedikt Bösel

Benedikt Bösel. © Timo Jaworr