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Germany & Belgium Study Tour Photos
visit our video gallery
highlighting the farms, people, culture and landscapes of the Germany and Belgium international study tour.
served as a city entrance marking the start of the road from Berlin to Brandenburg.
in Berlin is the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In Berlin, the
Memorial to the Murdered Jews
of Europe honors victims of the Holocaust and is covered with more than 2,700 concrete slabs of various sizes.
The Olympiastadion in Berlin was constructed for the 1936 Summer Olympics and is now used primarily for international football (soccer) matches.
Belgian Blue beef cattle
average a 10 percent higher market weight than more traditional breeds. Their conformation requires most of the breed's calves to be delivered via c-section. They are popular domestically because of their lean, tender meat.
While in Brussels it seemed fitting to explore a nearby field of Brussels sprouts. Harvested between September and March, the sprouts are normally sweeter in taste after a frost.
The group visited an active coal mining site and learned how Germany's west central region has long been impacted by the industry that uprooted entire villages even as it created infrastructure and job opportunities. Coal plants provide 20 percent of the country's energy supply.
German roads are high quality, well-maintained, and are the responsibility of local, state and federal governments. Funding comes from income tax, car tax based on environmental ratings, and gas tax. The gas price averages $5.72 per gallon.
At the European Union Commission–the governing body of the 28 EU member states–the group had a series of presentations and discussion on trade, TTIP, GMOs and the EU's Common Agriculture Policy.
Germany's complex soil classification system was established during the 1930s. Land is graded using a 100-point scale based on various attributes, including ground water recharge, water retention, filter functions and soil productivity.
The Saerbeck Bioenergy park uses 7 wind turbines, 24,000 solar modules and two biogas converters (one municipal waste, one agricultural) to provide heat and electricity to the city's 7,000 homes and businesses.
Translated, this sign says, "Our field feeds you, please respect it." Distributed to discourage littering, the signs were created by the Federation des Jeunes Agriculteurs (Federation of Young Farmers) in Belgium.
Haus Dusse, a research and extension facility, has a building dedicated to modern equipment for livestock facilities. The building is open once a month to farmers, free of charge, to see the equipment and speak with manufacturers.
With climate characteristics similar to Michigan, asparagus is widely grown in Germany. The country was fourth in worldwide asparagus production in 2013.
, a former monastery, is located in Germany's grape growing region near the Rhein River. Now the property is used for wine making and tours.
Ter Dolen Brewery
in Belgium features several craft beers, including Kriek. Know for its sweet taste and pink-red color, the Belgian beer is made with sour cherries.
Dr. Carl-Josef Weiers, a former official with Germany's Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry, served as the group's guide. The expertise he shared was invaluable to the 23 Michigan and Indiana farmers participating in the study tour.
Germany and Michigan have similar sugar beet production including planting and harvesting time frame, seed varieties, row spacing and average yield. One exception, however, is the country's use of non-GMO sugar beet seed.
The Reuer family hosted lunch on their 10th generation farm where in addition to growing corn, wheat and sugar beets, they sell eggs, homemade sausages, jams, baked goods, and other products at their farm store.
Study tour participants sampled Korn, a traditional liquor made from fermented ryeat the
in Munster. Muhlenhof has around 30 buildings with displays from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Of Germany's 3 million dairy cows, only 4,000 are Jerseys. The group visited
, a co-op farm operated by Rainer Schmitt who, in addition to being a shareholder, manages the farms daily tasks, employees and breeding program.
The group visited four dairy farms with biogas converters that use manure and silage to generate energy in the form of heat and electricity for the farm and a number of local homes and businesses depending on the unit's size.
dairy farm offers raw milk for purchase using refillable containers. "Frische damsforger milk" translates to, "Fresh milk for sale."
Robotic milking systems like the one pictured here are common on German dairy farms. The systems are more affordable because the equipment manufacturer, Lely, is based nearby in the Netherlands.
The two robotic milkers are located adjacent to this freestall barn. At this farm the group toured, the owners have seen an estimated 10-15 percent increase in milk production since switching to the robotic milkers.
Haus Riswick, an educational facility in Germany, conducts dairy research projects examining housing, nutrition, milking practices and more. The farm has both an organic and conventional herd.
Several different free stall environments are used in this barn at Haus Riswick for research purposes.
Using the equipment shown, Haus Riswick is able to track exactly how much water and feed their cows consume daily.
Biosecurity measures were practiced at many of the farms visited.
The group visited
Sanssouci Palace and Park
in Potsdam, Germany. Built in 1745, it is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.
The palace and park sit on 700-acres and feature an expansive array of terraced gardens, flower beds, hedges, fruit trees and more.
In 1990, the palace and park was designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Germany has the lowest grocery prices in Europe. Small discount grocery store chains like Lidl and Aldi are popular shopping locations.
A traditional cheese and yogurt sandwich served on the flight from Amsterdam to Berlin. Note the descriptive packaging.
A deli meat counter in Lubars, Germany features many traditional sausages and processed meats.
The group enjoyed a traditional German meal for lunch at the Reuer Family Farm that included bloodwurst, liverwurst, smoked ham, prosciutto, pickles and hard rolls.
Apple strudel, a common German dessert, was enjoyed by the group on several occasions.
Another traditional German meal enjoyed by the group included pork roast, potato boils and red cabbage.
Established in 1247, Lubars, a small agricultural village located just north of Berlin, is a tight knit community home to seven families that farm 625 acres of hay, oats and rye, primarily used to feed the village's 350 horses.
Lubars is popular among Berlin equestrians due to its close proximity to the city, allowing them to take public transportation to the farms that board their riding horses.
Stadhuis (City Hall) in
. Brugge is the capital and largest city in the West Flanders province of Belgium.
Canal in Brugge, Belgium with historic buildings and clock tower in the backdrop.
Swans in a canal in Brugge, Belgium.
Neuzekes (little noses), are a cone-shaped Belgian candy filled with a fruit-flavored liquid.
Saint Bavo's Cathedral
in Ghent, Belgium the group toured the church and viewed the original Ghent Altarpiece.
Cathedral is home to the
by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. It is originally known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.
. Ghent is the capital and largest city in the East Flanders province of Belgium.
Canal rides are a popular way for tourists to experience the rich history and architecture of Ghent, Belgium.
This panoramic view captures the breadth of an active German coal mining site that is expected to produce coal through 2050.
is the central square of Brussels, Belgium.