In Austria MIXED is implemented by BOKU (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna) and based on a still ongoing FiBl-project with Demeter farmers of the organic fruit producer platform ‘Von Herzen Biobauern’, which will be expanded by including additional farms.
Although in Austria small-scale agriculture is clearly dominating, the specialization of farms continues to progress. Fewer and fewer farms practice both animal husbandry and arable, vegetable and fruit farming. This leads to a concentration of the different branches in some regions with decreasing resilience of the farms.
The increasing consumer demand for high-quality, organic food is increasingly satisfied by professionalized agricultural production. In organic agriculture, too, specialization and a tendency towards industrialization can be observed as side effects of the increase in efficiency. With the expansion of organic fruit-growing area and the increasing demand for appropriate marketing, more and more challenges arise concerning the ecologically appropriate regulation of pest populations.
In the meantime, organic laying hens are also being kept in larger flocks. The outdoor runs are mostly insufficiently structured and hens intensively use the area near the barns. The high nutrient inputs in the proximity of the barns are increasingly and critically discussed.
These two value chains have so far existed completely separately. The integration of animal husbandry into the cycle of professional fruit production has been completely lost over the last few decades. To counteract this development, particularly committed organic farmers have developed a new concept in cooperation with FiBL, called “Apple Hens”: Organic eggs are produced in small mobile houses directly in the orchards. There are plans to re-establish “Apple Hens” on many organic fruit growing and arable farms in Austria.
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