Producing high-quality plants for use as fodder is key to improve the quality of milk and the productivity in a sustainable way. This is the first step of our value chain.
We ensure that our seeds and fertilizers are being used in both our lands and in the lands of subcontracted farmers so as to get animal feed of the same quality and the same standards. In addition, we continuously supervise the production areas and offer training in the field about a variety of subjects including sustainable agriculture practices.
By the end of 2017, we planted fodder crops on 7,250 decares of land in total, including 4,000 decares of land that we own. We carried out cereal silage production with 37, and corn silage production with 52 subcontracted farmers. We used the fodder obtained through plant production to meet the fodder requirements of our dairy cattle farms and milk suppliers.
Our Sustainable Plant Production Practices
We use the "Principles of Sustainable Agriculture" prepared by the Sustainable Agriculture and Access to Food Working Group of the Business Council for Sustainable Development as the guidelines for our agricultural operations. In order to spread these principles, we carry out activities aimed to ensure that dairy farmers and the farmers who grow plants for animal feed production follow the principles of sustainable agriculture, and we offer guidance to the farmers by giving training at the training centers.
We aim to preserve the soil structure, improve productivity and quality, and protect the groundwater resources and the environment. For this, we analyze every year, the soil of the land where crops are grown for animal feed and check the soil for heavy metals or any other contamination, except for nutritional elements. Based on the results of the analysis, we determine the macro-micro nutritional elements required for the plant to grow, as well as the type and amount of fertilizers to be used and the method and timing of fertilization.
We avoid turning over the soil by using a plough to preserve the physical, chemical and biological structure of the soil and prevent erosion. We also ensure that crop residues are buried under the soil after harvest. We use 100% organic and organomineral fertilizers produced from the waste of biogas facilities and recommend the subcontracted farmers to use these types of fertilizers.
We practice crop rotation, knowing that growing the same crop in the same place for many years in a row disproportionately depletes the soil of certain nutrients and causes the build-up of pathogens.
We determine irrigation periods by using equipment such as tensiometers and use drip irrigation systems. This way we minimize the water consumption for growing crops.
We avoid using plant protection products and where necessary, only use products prescribed by the authorities and permitted in the legislation.
We apply agricultural pesticides and fertilizers in a way which prevents them from coming into contact with the water resources and soil to minimize their harmful effects on the environment. We provide personal protective equipment to all employees who work with agricultural chemicals and ensure that they undergo regular health checks.
We store the waste generated at the farms in separate areas in accordance with the legislation. We ensure that recyclable waste is collected and sent to recycling facilities by approved firms and non-recyclable waste is destroyed at licensed hazardous waste management facilities.