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LEAF Speak Out: Difficult Questions - Arable

Why do you spray the vegetables you sell in the farm shop?

Like plants in your garden, vegetable crops can be susceptible to diseases and pests. We may also want to control weeds, as a gardener might do in their flower beds. We spray the crops to control diseases, pests or weeds and to make sure that we don’t waste the vegetables that succumb to a disease such as blight in potatoes.

What do you think about GM crops?

GM, or biotechnology, is a technology that can be useful in some situations. For example, in very dry countries, biotechnology can help plants to become more resilient to survive with very little water. In parts of the world that are very dry, GM crops could mean the difference between being able to grow crops, or not.

Sprays kill bees, what is your view on this?

Farmers have changed many of their spraying practices to minimize the impact on bees, for example, using biological control, such as introducing a small worm, called a nematode, that is specifically bred to kill slugs by burrowing into them and eating them from the inside out! Also, if farmers do apply an insecticide to a crop, they are advised to spray these at night when the bees aren’t active.

Is it dangerous to live/walk/have schools near farmers’ fields when they are spraying?

Crop protection products are rigorously tested, even more so than drugs for human beings, before they are considered safe to apply to field crops. If you are concerned about being outside when farmers are spraying, ask your local farmer to let you know when they plan to spray, so that you plan your day accordingly.

Why aren’t you an organic farmer?

I have chosen not to be, but I do follow many of the principles of organic farming, such as looking after my soils, using farm animal muck as fertiliser and some farmers, who aren’t organic, use biological control for pests - such as introducing a small worm, called a nematode, that is specifically bred to kill slugs by burrowing into them and eating them from the inside out!

Why do you grow oilseed rape? It gives me hay fever.

Oilseed rape is an important crop for us. We supply it to companies who crush it for biodiesel, cooking oils or industrial lubricants. It is also important for our crop rotation, because we harvest it early in the summer, making it easier for us to do all the cultivation that we need to drill our following crop ahead of the winter. Hay fever may also be triggered by flowering grasses, rather than oilseed rape.

Supported by the Crop Protection Association

Difficult question topics:

General Q&A

Arable

Beef

Dairy

Environment

Pigs

Poultry

Sheep

Sporting/hunting

Why do you grow oilseed rape? It gives me hay fever.

When farmers spray crops, will a little wind carry the spray and harm me?

Supported by:

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