Organic herbs from the north

High up in the north of Germany, in the small, idyllic village of Eitzendorf, you will find the Biolandhof Cordes. Known under the farm name Smüllershof, the farm has existed since at least 1645 and is now managed by the family Cordes in a more biological way.

December 16, 2019

A significant change
Today, herbs, wild flowers and cereals are lovingly grown on 80 hectares of the beautiful landscape conservation area on the old Weser arm “Alveser See” between Hoya and Verden. This was not always the case, on the contrary! In the mid 80s, Heino Cordes, who took over the business in 1974, no longer wanted to compete in the strongly price-oriented conventional sugar beet market and switched to organic. “It was no longer a pleasure and it was less and less worthwhile,” Heino Cordes looks back and does not regret this decision for a single day. “Instead of cultivated sugar beets, various special crops are growing today,” says Heino proudly. The bull fattening was also completely abandoned and replaced by a suckler cow husbandry.

Keeping up with the trends
Heino Cordes has converted the farm to organic farming according to Bioland criteria and dedicates himself with much joy and passion to all these challenges, including the preservation and promotion of soil health. Today, sustainable diversity is at the heart of the farm managed by Heino and his son Morten. The good clayey soils, the right amount of precipitation and valuable fertiliser from suckler cow husbandry allow special crops to flourish. “The special crops we currently grow include fennel, peppermint, balm, nettle, apple mint and wild flowers,” says Heino. “At the moment, we are also fully focusing on trends in order to achieve higher added value,” adds son Morten. After mint, which is dried and then suitable for making tea, that is in demand the most. You can smell it because the whole environment around the farm only smells of mint.

Happiness in organic herb cultivation
You can see that the extremely hospitable Cordes family puts all their heart and soul into the business. “It's simply fun to do what you like to do the most,” says Heino proudly at 71 and adds, “Working at the farm welds the whole family together.” Both on the farm and in the field, there are many activities that are mainly in demand seasonally. At the same time, it requires extensive and intensive manual work. “Depending on requirements, we also employ 10 to 20 seasonal workers every season,” says Heino.

Found at the fair
The visits to the fair were worthwhile for the Cordes family. “At the Tarmstedt trade fair in 2017, we first spoke with Farmtech about special crop spreaders and later at Agritechnica we saw the Variofex special crop spreader in its natural state for the first time,” Heino recalls. It aroused his interest right from the start, but the decision was not easy. “For 20 years we have invested little in new machines, because it has always been difficult for us to find the right machines because we usually have special wishes and special requirements,” says Heino.

Much joy with the spreader
From now on (already since 1985) they do without artificial fertiliser and spraying agents. Thus, about 40-50 lorries of compost are spread on the fields per year, i.e. 1/2 lorry per hectare. The demand for the new spreader was big because the normal manure spreader is too wide and too heavy, and so the special crop spreader from Farmtech came into play. “Variofex convinced us and left nothing to be desired,” says Heino critically but honestly. For him, it was important to achieve a perfect spreading pattern across the entire field - with the Variofex; you can do this over an area of up to 15 metres wide. However, not only compost, but also lime can be spread with the fine spreading unit; 1500 mm, i.e. exactly one and a half metres, is the track width of the Variofex. This is an advantage for special crops as it fits perfectly into the rows. In the meantime, they have already made over 50 loads and so far the investment has proved to be the right one.

Positive and future-oriented
Heino and Morten agree that the fact that the harvest can be better or worse is a part of agriculture, and they add that the risk of organic products is much greater than that of conventional products. There is also plenty of competition in the sector. “There are now many suppliers with the same products on the market, and we thought the whole thing would be simpler and easier. Nevertheless, we are optimistic because we always deliver the required quality,” said Heino confidently. There are enough challenges for the future. “We want to maintain the current high level of growth, but above all we want to work more cost-efficiently, speed up work processes and improve quality,” Heino concludes.