Rudolf Tornerhjelm, a farmer in northwestern Skåne, Sweden, takes his responsibilities seriously as the fifth generation of his family to oversee their ancestral land. He believes in leaving the land in a better condition for the next generation, and sees sustainability as the key to achieving this. Like many Swedish farmers, Tornerhjelm faces challenges due to climate change, particularly in finding enough water for his crops. To address this, he plans to invest in a new irrigation system on his 780ha farm, which will be fully automated and deliver nutrition directly to the crops. This significant investment will help ensure consistent yields and support the farm’s sustainability goals.
Tornerhjelm’s farm, located on the Wrams Gunnarstorps estate, is far from average. Most farms in Sweden are around 50ha in size, while Tornerhjelm’s farm is 780ha. The estate also includes a 2,771ha forest and a 17th-century castle. Tornerhjelm’s irrigation system will have a capacity of 200,000 cubic meters of water and will benefit not only his farm but also partner farms in the area. He will receive European Union funding towards the project, which is estimated to cost around €650,000. Tornerhjelm believes that developing the irrigation system aligns with the principles of conservation agriculture and will ultimately increase crop yields.
The Wrams Gunnarstorps estate has a rich history of agricultural innovation. In the 1850s, Rudolf Tornerhjelm, an ancestor of the current owner, focused on developing a successful dairy operation. To create pasture for a larger dairy herd, much of the forest on the estate was cleared, resulting in a high clay content in the soil. In 2016, the estate implemented a new soil management system, including controlled traffic farming (CTF) and conservation agriculture (CA). These practices improved soil quality by increasing the presence of earthworms and micro-fauna. The estate also formed a partnership with neighboring farms to implement conservation agriculture with minimum tillage, resulting in thriving soils that are easier to work with.
Jan Jonsson, the estate manager, explains that conservation agriculture allows for year-round growth on the land, reducing the need for weed control and chemical spraying. The use of precision farming techniques, such as GPS technology and drone technology, has streamlined operations and reduced the number of employees required. The farm cultivates 1,945ha of crops, including winter wheat, beans, oilseed rape, and oats, using precision farming to optimize fertilization and increase yield per hectare in an environmentally friendly manner.
Tornerhjelm’s commitment to sustainability and innovation sets him apart as a farmer. His investment in an irrigation system and adoption of conservation agriculture practices demonstrate his dedication to leaving the land in a better condition for future generations. With the support of EU funding and the partnership with neighboring farms, Tornerhjelm’s farm is poised to be a model of sustainable and efficient agriculture in Sweden.