Leonhard Wellenzohn is a committed organic farmer and he does a lot to make it easier for himself and other organic farmers to be more green.
As the fifth generation of farmers in his family, Leonhard switched to organic farming as early as 1994. This was unusual at the time since most farmers still followed integrated principles. Since 1999, Leonhard has been Chair of the Bio Vinschgau Association. And the father of two has believed it is important to be more green in his apple orchards for at least as long.
Around the edge of the orchards lie piles of stone, and hazelnut bushes and trees grow. Leonhard has attached several bird nesting boxes to the apple trees and every year he sows flowers for insects and small animals.
Together with a South Tyrolean company and the organic farmers in the Vinschgau valley, Leonhard has developed a new type of “mulcher” – a machine for mowing and processing the cuttings; it only mows the edge strips and leaves the seeds in the middle. “This way we can grow the flower strips until shortly before harvest time. At the same time, we can clear strips of grass from the under trees using an undergrowth mulcher,” explains the apple farmer. He’s also built a so called “crumbler”, which turns the ground between and right beside the trees. This makes life easier since organic farmers used to have to do this work by hand.
The Wellenzohn family also use modern harvesting machinery: a lifting platform and three electric hand harvest carts.
To make the work easier, Leonhard and his son Hannes, who joined the company in 2013, rely on a large variety of resistant varieties. “We only have to intervene a little; scab infestation is the biggest challenge we face as apple farmers,” says Leonhard. In future, the father-and-son team want to grow other varieties and uncover other compensatory niches.