How does modern agriculture work, Tobias Honvehlmann?
"If I didn't live and love this, I wouldn't be doing this." That's what Tobias Honvehlmann says. He is a farmer by passion, grew up in a family farm and manages the farm with 130 dairy cows and 80 hectares of land together with his father. It was clear to him early on that he would join the family farm. "But I wanted to do it the right way. So first I did an apprenticeship as a farmer, then I studied agricultural sciences in Osnabrück, and in my master's degree I still studied applied livestock science." Agriculture has changed a lot in the past decades: "We are veterinarians, specialists in crop production, animal nutrition, accounting and investment planning. Not every job offers that diversity. I particularly like that."
Agricultural scouts provide insight into modern agriculture
Tobias Honvehlmann shares his knowledge and enthusiasm for agriculture with citizens as an AgrarScout. "I became aware of it during my studies. Agriculture urgently needs public relations work. Agriculture is everybody's business. Everyone needs food and many people don't really know where their food actually comes from anymore. In the past, every second person had agricultural roots. People had a different relationship to agriculture. Today, agriculture has moved so far away for many. There are fewer farms and citizens are literally losing sight of agriculture." So that not every farm has to provide information about its work itself, the Modern Agriculture Forum has launched the AgrarScouts. More than 700 farmers are working throughout Germany to provide information about their work for the entire industry. Tobias Honvehlmann will be on hand at the International Green Week to answer questions from visitors at the Farm Experience.
From nitrate values to robotics or just basic knowledge?
The topics in which the visitors are interested are very different: "I have to find out what the visitors are interested in. It's often easier with children, they simply ask everything and then the parents' interest is also aroused. Some have reservations about certain topics - nitrate pollution, for example - so we can educate and inform them. Others are mainly interested in agricultural technology. We'll again have an agricultural machine with soil cultivation equipment on site, so you can quickly get into conversation."
For children, there is an indoor rally where questions have to be answered at various exhibitors to win a prize, in the green lab they can take a closer look at topics such as plant breeding and plant cultivation, and at another booth jam is made from sugar beets.
Digitalization in agriculture
When Tobias Honvehlmann is not on the road as an agricultural scout, he works at home in North Rhine-Westphalia on a dairy farm, feeding the animals, tilling the fields or doing the bookkeeping. Milking, on the other hand, he no longer has to do by hand. "We have been using two milking robots for a year now. So the cows decide for themselves when they want to be milked." With the help of sensors in the collar, each cow is recognized individually, and the animals' health values are checked and provided digitally. "So I spend a lot of time checking animals in the barn and on the screen. Thanks to technology, we learn much more about the animals and their health status than before. We get results on feeding times, rumination activities or on milk quality. We can react much faster if necessary, and animal welfare is thus significantly increased."
In the future, Tobias Honvehlmann will take over the farm from his father. He is not afraid of the responsibility: "I have grown into it from the beginning, I have settled into it. Since I was 14, my father has taken me along to sales meetings and involved me in important operational processes. It's going to be okay."
You can find out more about Tobias Honvehlmann's dairy farm and the work of the AgrarScouts at the Green Week in Hall 3.2 at the Farm Experience.