“Extra-low residue demands not feasible for growers”

In order to meet future residue laws by retailers, new cultivation techniques are required. This is a conclusion drawn by growers participating in the ‘MRL open field produce’ platform. The growers reached the conclusion in participation with Hessing Supervers, The Greenery and Bayer CropScience. Testing results show that a 50%-norm is doable in some cases, but that in certain types of crop it will lead to diseases, pests and loss of quality. Growers plan to run more tests in the coming year.

Crop protection tests were performed at agricultural research centre Zwaagdijk. Bayer CropScience did additional testing and shared its result with members of the platform. The major aim is to allow growers to cultivate in a reliable fashion without exceeding market standards. Both quality and yield of product must be guaranteed. The growers have assembled other cultivators into the platform because they ran into similar problems. All were unexpectedly confronted with excess residue. Especially in kale, celery and leaf crops there were problems concerning the MRL.

What the growers want is to be a reliable business partner to the retail business, and at the same time have more grip on residue levels. Maximum Residue Limits have been all over the news lately, and a Dutch website (www.weetwatjeeet.nl) even runs a ‘toxic meter’ of ‘polluting’ retailers. Under pressure from environmental organizations, supermarkets continuously reduce the MRL of vegetables, sometimes down to 50% of existing standards. The expectation is that in the near future supermarket chains will demand residue-free vegetables and abolish pesticides altogether. This would result in further pressure on suppliers and growers.

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