The Edelhof is a former estate of the monastery Zwettl (Zisterzienser Monks). Edelhof was built shortly after the foundation of the monastery by the Kuenringer around 1147 and run by the monastery until the time of Josef II. Temporarily it was divided among the farmers of the neighbour-villages Rudmanns and Mitterreith.
In 1873 the Edelhof was purchased by the Federal Province Government of Lower Austria and a one-year agricultural school was installed. Therefore the Edelhof is now one of the oldest agricultural schools in Austria. Our oldest buildings are around 400 years old.
Actually there is an agricultural college (three years of education in a modular system), an agricultural vocational school and a college for rural domestic science.
The tasks of the school are:
Since 1980 you can also find a management organisation for our region “Waldviertel" at the Edelhof, consisting of departments for agriculture, rural tourism, energy/environment and internet projects.
Our farm is located in the north of Austria, about 120 km far from Vienna, between the river Danube and the Czechian border.
The closest town is Zwettl with a population of around 5000 people.
Our area has only around 600 mm of annually rainfall but because of the daily dew we have enough for plant production. Dew compensates the drought through the winds and we also have a lot of foggy days. We donÂ´t use irrigation systems. On average we have 145 days with rainfall and 140 days with frost. The average temperature is around 6.8 Â°C. The soils are mostly sandy loams, they are not very rich: 20 - 30 cm topsoil.
Our farm is located at 600 m above sea level and is situated in a hilly region.
Our farm has 128 hectares of which are 7 ha forest, 2 ha fishponds, app. 8 ha surface with buildings. The remaining area is divided between the land for the breeding station, which is under conventional farming and the school farm, which is under organic farming.
50 ha are under organic farming, this means 30 ha grassland of which are 15 ha pastures. Arable crops are winter wheat, potatoes, peas, oats, red clover and clover-grass. The manure is done with manure, liquid manure and composted manure.
In addition there are several hectares of research plots both in organic and conventional farming where testing of different varieties and different kernels per mÂ², quality seed mixtures for the grasslands, fertilization, soil cultivation, and e.g. pestizides in potatoes against potato beetle is done.
Also at Edelhof there is one of the oldest cereal breeding stations of Austria. Since 1903 the breeders look for high quality combined with yield, disease resistance and low-input varieties, also breeding for organic farming has started. Nowadays there are approximately 50.000 plots on different locations in Lower Austria. There are cooperations with many European countries, like Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ireland- Breeding is done in winter wheat, spring and winter barley (two-rowed), spring and winter oats, winter rye.
The crop rotation for the plant breeding station on 52 ha is
oilseed rape - oats - wheat - peas - wheat/rye - barley. Hop is also grown at Edelhof for the well known “Zwettler Bier".
To describe our livestock
30 dairy cows (Austrian Simmental) give milk with yields of about 7.480 kg per cow and year with 4.1% fat and 3.46 % protein content. There are 20 heifers & calve. All our cows have opportunity to go to the pastures every day.
The pigs (Edelschwein, Landrasse, Pietrain) are also under organic farming since 2002. There are many different kinds of construction in the stable to show the students different systems of pig keeping. The new stable houses 20 sows and 1 male. Animals that are not suitable for breeding are used for fattening.
20 Sheep with 2.8 brought up lambs a year: Bergschaft, Merino, black Jura and crosses between these breds. The lambs are fattened; first they they suckle for two months and then the end fattening takes 2 - 3 months with daily uptakes of 320 g on average.
100 laying hens in out-door-keeping that give 275 eggs a year. Furthermore alternating fattened poultry, goose, turkey and ducks.
Furthermore we have 25 horses of different breds for the education in riding and carriage driving.