reducing, controlling and monitoring
The Co-operative Farms takes pride in the quality of food we produce. We go to every length to ensure that the food we provide is safe and of the highest standards.
Pesticide use is currently an unavoidable fact given the scale of our operations; we simply could not meet the expectations of our customers in terms of availability, quality and price if we did not.
In the UK, the use of all pesticides is already strictly regulated by the EU and the UK’s Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) to ensure that they are safe for the consumer, environment and the operator.
The Co-operative Group goes one step further and undertakes its own assessment of all approved chemicals. As a result we have banned, or restricted the use of, a number of chemicals that are used by other farmers and approved by other large retailers.
reducing the need for pesticides
We employ a range of techniques to reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides:
- Selecting crop varieties that are better able to resist or tolerate pests and diseases
- Using crop rotations that avoid the build up of pests and diseases in the soil
- Encouraging habitats of pest predators (eg. beetles, ladybirds, spiders), that can naturally control damaging species.
Using the latest scientific research, we have also introduced methods to keep our use of pesticides, where needed, down to an absolute minimum:
- Pest population thresholds - these mean that rather than using pesticides at the first sign of a pest, we carefully calculate the maximum level of pest population acceptable before some pest control is needed to limit damage.
- Specialist systems are used to predict if levels of a pest or disease are likely to become damaging later in the season, allowing us to take early action with reduced levels of pesticide to control future problems.
- We keep abreast of any new developments that reduce the quantity of pesticide that is needed to adequately control the pest or disease, eg. treating seed with small quantities of certain pesticides can reduce the need for further pesticide applications to the crop grown from it.
- Our trained staff use state-of-the-art equipment to carry out spraying activity safely and accurately.
We use the above techniques (known as Integrated Crop Management), along with expert advice and training for our farmers and farm workers to ensure that we use pesticides responsibly and with the least possible impact on the environment.