“In 1992 when my father founded the company he chose a biological approach over the use of chemical products,” says Wim Meyers. Today, he is the General Manager of Meyers Softfruit.
“In 1992 most growers relied almost exclusively on pesticides,” says Meyers. “When we started out Biobest carried out several trials here. The results immediately convinced us we had to follow a biological approach. My father has always been a true pioneer, but at the time everyone thought we were crazy!”
Today he says perceptions have completely changed. “Other growers visit us regularly as they are keen to know more about how we work. The biological approach is more expensive than the chemical one, which causes many growers to hesitate. First, they want to be sure of the results and see them for themselves. This is understandable because to use this biological approach you need patience and trust.”
“The fact is, that when you make the transition, the results are not immediately obvious,” explains Meyers. “Some growers overlook the fact that finding a balance is an important part of this strategy. You are likely to see harmful insects more often than you would if using pesticides. However, these pests are important for beneficials in maintaining their ecosystem. They keep each other in balance and that, in fact, is why they are successful. If the harmful insects begin to dominate, then you must take action.”
Trust and patience
“In that area, working closely with Biobest is truly an asset,” says Meyers. “They visit the nursery once a week to take stock. This leads to targeted advice about possible improvements and highlights any potential problems before they arise. If we have an urgent problem, then their swift approach and scalability make it possible to react quickly. That way we avoid losing crops.”
At Biobest, sales are not paramount. “That’s right,” confirms Meyers, “they are much more than salespeople. They are real advisors who know us, our needs and who assist us in our business. With their help, we have our heads and hands free to concentrate on our work and on quality.”
Meyers shares a recent example: “Today, for example, I saw thrips on several crops. My first reaction was to order lots of Orius. Sometimes I can get a bit carried away. Luckily, Biobest is there to temper my initial reaction, so we don't introduce too many beneficial insects.”
Maintaining a careful balance
Finding a balance between good and bad insects is important. When you choose biological pest control, you are choosing an ecosystem. “Each pest has its counterpart. For aphids, for example, we use Aphidoletes-System; for spider mite control we use predatory mites, such as Phytoseiulus-System and for thrips we use Orius-System… But it is important to have confidence in the solutions that Biobest proposes. Otherwise, if you go ahead and use the wrong chemical products anyway, the ecosystem is likely to collapse and the balance is lost,” he points out.
'Quality is key'
For Meyers Softfruit quality is the mainstay of production. More essential than yield, is the importance of high-quality products. In addition, continuity and sustainability are essential pillars in their business model. “And that last pillar is one we share with Biobest,” Meyers tells us. “We also work on the ecological side of our business – we generate electricity ourselves, we purify our own water…
“And, this is also important to our customers. We still get questions every day about our use of pesticides. For them, the story has to add up – everything has to be fresh, grown without the use of pesticides and, above all, it has to be delicious. And they are right.”
“Ultimately, the efforts we make are reflected in our end product. The consumer is satisfied, our crops are in top condition… Natural pollination and pest control is not the cheapest solution, but it consistently delivers the best results. Together with the tailored advice from Biobest, we deliver the highest quality products year after year.”