Customer report: Out of responsibility for people and nature
The Serrig farm near Trier is a place where 170 people with different types of disabilities feel comfortable and find work. Of course, numerous machines are also used on the farm with seven different types of livestock and 180 hectares of cultivated land. In addition to the price-performance ratio, the topics of occupational safety and ergonomics also play a decisive role. The AS 940 Sherpa 4WD, which has been part of the machine park for two years and is particularly popular with the employees, was also convincing.
"Our farm is a facility of the Lebenshilfewerke Trier, which is a very versatile company. At our main location in Trier, for example, we produce in the wood, electrical and automotive sectors, mainly as a service provider for larger companies. The Hofgut, on the other hand, has a very agricultural character," explains Dr. Michael Köbler, who has successfully steered the fortunes of the Hofgut as managing director for twenty years. It is located on the former site of the state vineyard domain of Serrig, which used to operate the largest vineyard in Germany.
Supporting each individual individually
"At the end of the 1970s, when the need for workshop places kept increasing and the domain was privatised, it was decided to establish another facility up here with a focus on agriculture and rural handicrafts," the native Swabian recounts in retrospect and explains: "Agriculture and the associated work with and in nature are excellently suited for people with disabilities. Many in our institution enjoy working in the fresh air or with animals. Others, for example autistic people and people with seizures, need a very quiet working environment. For these people, we have a basket weaving and weaving workshop. So we try to support each of our employees according to their inclinations and possibilities with the appropriate task."
The mainstay of direct marketing
Over the decades, the farm estate has developed into a stately business. It now includes a residential building, a slaughterhouse, a butchery, a farm shop, greenhouses, vegetable and fruit cultivation and numerous stables. A total of 40 full-time staff and 170 supervised employees currently work on the farm estate and manage approximately 200 hectares of grassland, arable land and orchards. "With the exception of goats, we have almost all breeds of livestock on the farm," says the agronomist proudly and begins to enumerate: "Our Limousin suckler herd currently consists of 60 suckler cows with offspring, we keep our 250 fattening pigs in an open-front barn with straw bedding, and a bit above the grounds we have Kunig horses, which are mainly used for landscape maintenance. In addition, there are 150 ewes of the Schwarzkopf breed and 600 turkeys, as well as 600 geese seasonally. In the poultry sector, however, our most important product is fresh chicken meat, which we slaughter in our own poultry abattoir. We currently have around 3500 chickens, but we are currently in the process of building a barn with a capacity for 9000 chickens."
A large part of the farm's produce is sold through the regional food trade. The mainstay, however, is direct marketing, which generates a turnover of almost two million euros per year. The farm is represented with its products at numerous regional markets and also offers them in its own farm shop.
Nature of appreciation
It goes without saying that there is a lot to mow on a farm of this size. "Our ride-on mower from AS-Motor is used a lot. On the one hand, we have to keep the entire farm tidy, and on the other hand, we do a lot of contract nature conservation. For example, we are responsible for the maintenance of numerous orchards in the area," says Dr Köbler. For a good two years now, the AS 940 Sherpa 4WD has been part of the farm's machinery for a good two years and is popular with the staff. "Reducing manual labour is not only a way of showing appreciation for us. It is also important for us because we want to promote and qualify our employees in such a way that they find employment - at least in part - on the primary labour market. And of course, this also includes working with machines."
Tested by the boss
When it comes to choosing new machines at the Hofgut, occupational safety and ergonomics play a decisive role above all. "And not only because we have employees with physical disabilities at our facility. Even we full-time staff are not getting any younger and my physiotherapist has enough to do as it is," says Dr Köbler with a smile. He has convinced himself that the AS Sherpa is really comfortable to sit on: "I don't put anything in my yard that I haven't tested myself first.
The trained eye of the technology-savvy managing director pays particular attention to the suitability for people with disabilities. "In addition to good seating comfort and excellent ergonomics, it was therefore very important to me that the mower switches off immediately if you dismount or fall off." In the case of the ride-on mowers from AS-Motor, several functions take effect in this case: The engine stops immediately due to the seat contact switch, the blade is disengaged and actively braked and the parking brake is automatically activated.
Since the farm is entirely self-supporting, the economic efficiency and thus the maintenance costs and the useful life of a new acquisition are also decisive. "I was very pleasantly surprised by the consumption in particular," says Dr Köbler and adds with a smile: "With the previous model, you had the feeling that you had to drive right behind with the tanker. I couldn't imagine that the mower from AS-Motor would be so economical." In fact, AS-Motor's Sherpa stands out for its low consumption of a maximum of 4.7 litres per hour in extremely tall grass. "But the mower is not only economical, we were also convinced by the quality of the machine and the associated long service life. We attach great importance to sustainability here and so the Sherpa fits perfectly with our guiding principle 'Out of responsibility for people and nature'."
"We have the responsibility for special people here. And so some things are different with us than in a classic farm. For example, on our farm we don't look for an employee for a specific job, but we look for the right job for an individual person." You can hear that Dr Köbler enjoys working with these special people when he proudly says, "The nice thing about our work is that we get a lot back from the people we look after here. So I'm sure few bosses can say that their staff cry when they have two weeks of company holidays coming up." With a smile, he adds: "Maybe because they can't drive the AS-Motor Sherpa for a fortnight.
You can find out more about Hofgut Serrig on the internet at www.hofgut-serrig.de.