A self-sufficiency rate of four percent for vegetables and fruit? There's still room for improvement. The key to achieving this is to resolve the irrigation issue - but that's not all.
While the broccoli grows protected under the fleece, the radish harvest is already in. Stacked in boxes, the tubers are now waiting to be washed. Then it's off to the shops.
The organic nursery op der Schanz is a pure vegetable farm. In one season, between March and November, the four permanent employees and four seasonal workers want to grow lettuce, kohlrabi, fennel, spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers on nine and a half hectares of soil. The location at an altitude of 430 meters is not quite ideal for growing fine vegetables, Willy Noesen confides to the Lëtzebuerger Journal. Compared to the Trifolie organic farm in Cruchten, where the 31-year-old still cultivates potatoes, beets and carrots, there is a temperature difference of about two degrees. This is another reason why the fleece films, under which a microclimate is created, are laid out in the field. The difference of a few degrees in a changeable month like April can decide whether the cultivation plan works out or if a harvest has to be written off.
All farmers have to reckon with weather capriciousness. But what causes fruit and vegetable growers across the country more profound concerns is the issue of irrigation. "Watering is a serious problem", says Willy Noesen. Large quantities of water are needed, especially in summer, "otherwise we won't have a crop", says Noesen, who took over farm management at the beginning of the year. In Altrier, like on many other farms in the country, mostly tap water is used to irrigate crops due to a lack of alternatives. For this, the organic farm pays the same tariff as households in the community. Only the sewer tax is omitted. To prevent overuse of the water network, the farm uses large pads as temporary storage tanks, which also collect rainwater from the barn roof and runoff collected from the foil tunnels (a greenhouse covered with plastic film).
The negotiations are bearing fruit – at least some
Drinking water to grow cabbage, carrots and strawberries? For the vegetable and fruit growing industry, that's not justifiable, neither economically nor environmentally. "Without guaranteed access to water, there is no horticultural production here in the Grand Duchy", announced the Fédération Horticole Luxembourgeoise (FHL) and the Lëtzebuerger Landesuebstbauveräin (LUV) at the end of January after organizing the second water table. The professional associations have been pointing out the problem for years. But there seems to be some change around the corner, as was learned after a meeting of a working group on May 10th (see drop-down box).
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