When developing a technology for fresh agro products, one automatically involves ‘Altes Land’, the biggest contiguous fruit-producing region in North Europe. In the region family farms, grow about 10.000 ha of mainly apples, but also cherries, pears, plums and berries. An interview with Rolf Kirchhof from the Fruit Advisory Service of the Altes Land, who has been working as a storage consultant for more than 31 years.
What are the most important tasks of Fruit Advisory Service of the Altes Land?
“We work for approximately 1000 fruit farmers in Northern Germany. Our advisory service begins with a variety recommendation, one of the most fundamental decisions for a fruit farmer. Once a particular variety has been chosen, problems of its cultivation, crop protection, fertilization, harvest procedures and storage - my specialisation, become important. Advice is given individually and in many group events, including pre-harvest excursions, winter conferences and some 140 guided plant protection tours of orchards throughout the season. Direct contact and exchange with growers is essential for us”
How did you become a QCAP Associate Partner?
“At Esteburg research station in Jork, LWK Niedersachsen and the Fruit Advisory Service of the Altes Land collaborate in a very close way. The LWK department of fruit quality and storage managed by Dr. Dirk Köpcke works on scientific questions, which the Fruit advisory service implements in practical farm processes. So when LWK became QCAP project partner, it was only logical that we would participate in the project as an associate partner.“
What is your contribution to the QCAP project?
“The most important function is to bridge the gap between science and practical farming. The grower contacts are essential for the implementation of the QCAP storage trials, which I help to organize and to maintain. Once the gas sensor is available for growers, I will assist with the installation and usage in the storage rooms, check the functionality during my farm visits and plan new storage experiments with the new system.”