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A farmer’s perspective of technology

A blackberry farmer gives his perspective on how natural solutions to pests as well as technology can help to make farming more sustainable.
I’m the grower here at the Kwekerij van den Bosch. It’s very diverse especially with a crop as blackberry. We’re working on artificial lighting, we’re working on new research of how to fertilise our crop, how to steer the crop. A lot of new challenges are here. And that’s what I’m working on.
In this greenhouse, we only use beneficiaries during the crop like here in blackberry. Yeah, we practically only clean the greenhouse, but we do not spray during cultivation. When you do that very well, then it’s possible to finish your crop with only beneficiaries. It’s also very challenging to look ahead. I also employ a specific biological crop protection strategy to be well employed for the season. The supermarket wants to develop their assortment, so in blackberry, we are thinking can we produce year round? Can we have a product with less plastics? We also have to take into account the life span of the product in the shelf.
Every two weeks, we get a visit of someone from Koppert, and together, we discuss our strategy, and then we monitor our strategy. Do we have to change it? And also monitor how the beneficiaries are doing. Eventually, we will only use beneficiaries, so no chemical spraying at all. For some crops, it’s in a hand reach, but in other crops, it’s very difficult. But you see there is a lot of movement towards more natural crop protection.
Unfortunately, we have to throw away quite some product. That’s something we are working on very hard at the moment to minimise it, but up to now, that’s quite a challenge.
Optimal result is that you have very limited damage by pests, but there is nothing more beautiful than seeing a crop grow and producing beautiful fruits that make other people happy.

In this video blackberry farmer, Wouter van den Bosch, discusses some of the diverse challenges of a natural approach to growing soft fruits, such as the use of bumblebees for pollination and other beneficial insects (which he refers to as beneficiaries) for crop protection as opposed to chemical pesticides.

Measures are also taken on this farm to prevent issues such as food waste caused by production of fruit which is either overripe or misshapen. One solution Wouter uses to prevent waste of overripe fruit is provided through an app: Too Good to Go.

Based on the information shared in the video, in what ways do the three pillars of sustainability apply to the approaches taken on this blackberry farm?

  1. Social (People): Ensuring food security (enough food for all) by following practices that guarantee human access to food and improvement of their welfare, and do not exploit workers.
  2. Environmental (Planet): Efficient use of resources and integrated approaches that minimise waste and negative impacts on both the natural and physical environment.
  3. Economic (Profit): Protecting the financial viability of farms and supporting the longevity of their business, including the ability to re-invest.

Share your thoughts in the comments area, below. How do your responses compare to those of other Learners?

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