Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 5 - Thursday, September 29

We packed our bags and were picked up first thing this morning, traveling east to Bradenburg.  
Our first visit was to the Oder swamp; Germany's largest polder of 140,000 hectares of land that is at sea level. The farmers have a complex system of canals and 40 pump stations which must pump the water into the Oder river.  We saw three pumps that were built in 1885 and could pump 180,000 liters per second.  We were shown a presentation on the flooding that would occur if the dike, which is 6 meters high, were breached.  Within 48 hours the entire 140,000 hectacres would be under water from 3-5 meters.   
We then went to a small goat farm (17.5 hectares) that is milking 100 goats.  The farmer  produces and sells milk, cheeses and ice cream on the farm.  He does not use antibiotics because it is too expensive versus the value of a goat.  
Finally we were given an extensive tour and discussion at a milk, feed and soil and testing station.  They are a membership organization which completes the safety and quality testing required by the government.  They currently are the only testing station approved by the government, but that will be expanded to others in 2013.  The members of the group have expanded the services to also include coordination for animal ID and consulting services. The farmers pay 18€ per cow annually, with an additional 10€ per cow being subsidized by the government.

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