Organic cattle breeding in Zala county
An organic cattle breeding farm is working to reverse the degradation of environmental conditions on the farm, whilst ensuring its long-term economic sustainability.
The Szunyogh family farm was established in Zala County, Southwest Hungary, in 1993. Today they farm almost 150 hectares, of which about 70 hectares are used for the organic breeding of Aberdeen Angus cattle, while the rest are classified as forest. In 2018, after five years of cattle breeding, the farm showed signs of excessive land use.
The farm has been receiving RDP support under the measures M10 – Agri-environment –climate and M11 – Organic farming since 2016. The RDP support received was used as a basis upon which the farm owners could build on, to fulfil their ambition of improving the environmental conditions of their farm to an even higher level, much higher even than that prescribed by the two RDP measures. Using professional advice, they apply holistic planned grazing (leaving areas aside), created wooded pastures (silvopasture), cover the soil with wood chips from local sawmills and redesigned the watering system.
Due to the longer set-aside period of the pastures, more herbaceous plants have the opportunity to reach maturity. This has had a positive effect on insect and bird populations, which find shelter and food in the tall grass.
The water cycle of the pasture improves because the plants on the set-aside pasture have more time to grow roots, thus increasing the water absorption capacity of the soil.
Reduced erosion and deflationary effects due to improved soil cover and woody systems.
By limiting the animals to smaller grazing zones, they changed their behaviour and now graze upon plants that were previously less desirable to them. In this way, the farm owners do not have to spend time or money on weeding, which significantly contributes to increasing the cost-effectiveness of their business.