The Gurk Valley in Southern Austria gets its name from the gurgling river, which winds through 157 kilometres of Carinthia. It created a landscape, which has been populated for at least 2000 years and is suited for cultivation on fields and grasslands, as well as for animal husbandry and forestry. What applies to the Gurk Valley on a small scale is typical for farming as a whole in Carinthia, Austria’s southernmost state.
So it is no wonder that farmer Richard Truppe from Gundersdorf in the Gurk Valley cannot say exactly how his family’s farm began. Most probably there was always a farm situated in the same spot in the scenic lower Gurk Valley. Richard Truppe says that the farm in Gundersdorf was already owned by the family in the 90’s of the 19th century – in the days of his great-great-grandfather. The over 100 year old stanchion barn, where fattened oxen are now kept, is proof of this. And as is typical for farms in Carinthia, the focus of the Truppe farm today is also on arable farming and dairy cattle breeding.
Is more tradition even possible? Just wait. As Richard and his wife Daniele decided to take over the farm at the turn of the century, it was only to because of a long-standing inheritance. Daniela, just 24 years old and a young mother at that time, recalls: “It was about making the farm ready for the future – as trite as that may sound.” ‘Go with the times’, was the motto that the Truppe family adhered to, ‘Otherwise, in time, you will be gone’. So the farm grew from a total of 80 cattle and a milk quota of 70,000 litres in the last 16 years to today’s total of 200 cattle and a milk production of around 500,000 litres. The cultivated area was expanded from 25 hectares to 145 hectares of fields, grassland and forestry in the course of generations. The Truppe farm is therefore one of the largest in all of Carinthia. Size helps agricultural enterprises to exist on the market today. But does that also make them sustainable in the future? It is their openness to modern technology that allows the Truppe couple to be well-equipped for the future.
Everybody helps, and it would not be possible any other way. Because all the field service is done by the family itself. Their 19-year-old daughter Michaela and parents Armin and Elisabeth Truppe help to make sure the farm is a success. Today, the Gurk Valley is bathed in sunshine. It is time for the second cut, but at the Truppe farm, nobody is under stress. Several days without rain have been announced and most of the harvest is already brought in. Tractors swarm out. Young Michaela skilfully takes the Fendt 516 Vario ProfiPlus (2016) out of the barn. Thanks to its manoeuvrability and strong steering ratio, the compact tractor is ideal for the narrow Truppe farmstead. The good ratio of power to fuel consumption also played a role when buying the 165-hp machine, says Richard Truppe.
Today he will be mowing several hectares of grassland, but first he instructs senior boss Armin Truppe, who is driving out to turn hay with the Fendt 310 Profi (2015). Everything is running well, thanks to the newly installed Fendt VarioGuide guidance system in the 516 Vario. That was important to him, he expects a significant increase in efficiency and operator relief in the “workplace”. That means lower consumption of fuel and pesticides on the conventionally cultivated areas and comfortable driving in the panoramic cab with multiple suspension. The tractors are in operation about 1600 hours a year. The investment in a sophisticated driver environment pays off.
The family farm has been relying on tractors from the Fendt brand since 1993. The first was a Fendt Farmer 305 LSA. Since then, Richard Truppe has usually replaced his fleet of two to three machines after several years. This has the advantage of profiting from the high resale value and bringing modern progress onto the farm with the new tractor, says the farmer. He would like to maintain this method for the future and has to limit himself at the same time: “However, the low dairy prices dampen our readiness to invest.” At the Truppe farm, there is a tendency towards technical progress. “We were also not only the first to buy the new Fendt 310 Profi in Austria,” laughs Daniela. For three years now, she has been using a milking robot for her 67 German Simmental.
“Modern technology is what makes our job worthwhile again,” she says and her husband nods in agreement. The cows and their farm managers enjoy the newly gained flexibility that the installation of the system has given them. One after another, the cows step into the automated milking stand, look to see if they have gotten enough forage and are milked at the same time by a milking robot. “No day is like the other,” says Daniela about life with animals. “But we have gained time for other things.” Contented cows, happy famers?
Oh, yes. At the Truppe farm, one quickly notices: The family is very satisfied with their life in farming. This may be because they have understood how to combine the traditions of the job with the demands of the global market. And they do not forget their family while doing so. Not an easy task, year after year. But nobody wants to talk about the worries of the future on this summer day in the Gurk Valley. Daniela, Richard and their daughter Michaela, who was and still is involved in the farm, are a closely-knit team. They laugh and joke a lot together, discuss and take care of things. Michaela recalls: “To grow up on a farm is the best thing that can happen to you. I had a great childhood!”
Daniela, who is a trained cook and the boss of the dairy cows and their offspring, is in the stable Her favourite is the dairy cow Lafee, who she raised with a bottle. Richard takes care of the fields and tractors. Glancing at his wife and daughter, he emphasises: “We don’t adhere to classic roles here. I know how to take care of the cows and my wife and daughter can drive tractors better than many others.” Talking about Michaela, her father says she has an eye for animals and the right feel for technology. The active parents are happy that their responsible daugther wants to work on the farm after her training and also take it over later. “Because farming is my passion and I love animals”, she says. “Nothing stands in the way for the further development of the farm in Gundersdorf,” Daniela and Richard Truppe are happy and climb up into the waiting tractor. After all, it is a harvesting day along the gurgling river in Carinthia.