Eastern Europe in a nut shell.

We have just had the best week going through Russia, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. Starting in Russia sent mixed feelings throughout the group. Apart from the lack of smiling and manners, it is still a place that intrigues me and the two days we had there definitely wasn’t enough. Being the end of snow melt and before any start of new spring life, it was probably the least picturesque it could be too which didn’t help. I think I’ll have to go back to Russia to get full benefit from it.

So a lettuce production facility, hydroponic flower operation and two dairy farms later, we moved onto Poland.

Now if you want picturesque – Poland and Czech Republic are a good start! Very productive country with cropping in particular. There was hardly any land that was not being used. The crops are all grown in long strips of rotation of mostly canola, wheat, maize and potatoes or sugar beet. Their yields are something to feel seriously Ill over – 8-10 T/Ha of wheat. No fences so no stock visible outside – mostly sheded apart from the high country which we didn’t get a chance to see.

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32000Tonne of Potatoe for crisps and chips stored for up to 12 months monitored electronically in each shed to avoid spoilage.

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Dairies are all indoors, predominantly Holstein cows, milk production is monitored by sensor collars and up around 9000L/head/yr.

The last two days involved going to the Horsch and John Deere manufacturing plants in Germany. Both extremely different and both extremely efficient and professional. The spare parts facility in both plants was the thing that blew me away. They had 10’s of thousands of boxes on shelves, each with parts in them. When needed, the computer would identify the specific parts and know exactly where they were stored.

Automatic forklifts would travel down rows that were 90meters long and 17 meters high and collect the box that had the right parts in it and put it on the conveyor. The most amazing thing though – no human in the whole business knew where a particular box was stored, only the computer knew!

The amount of technology used in the industries we have visited is an indication of what is available and an indication of how it can help improve efficiency in a business through time saving and maximising accuracy.

The diversity of Europe is an exciting thing to see!

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