Conventional Farmers Rejecting Neonicotinoids - What Farmers Say

Above: Pollinator margin in Norfolk, England: proof that there are farmers out there who care about pollinators and wildlife!

Below is an excellent short video by Friends Of The Earth, in which they interview 2 conventional (not organic) English farmers about their views of neonicotinoids, why they no longer use them and effect of crop yield.  The farmers were John Cherry, conventional farmer from Hertfordshire; and Peter Lundgren, a conventional farmer, Lincolnshire.

It is interesting how some of their observations confirm arguments and evidence previously featured on this website.  here are some of my favourite comments from the two farmers:

John Cherry:

On the impact of neonics on bees;

"It will decrease their vitality and you do that year on year and it's a disaster for the bees".

"Farmers managed without these bloody things for thousands of years, but we've got lazy and we're farming too much with chemicals.....we don't need it so we don't use it".

We don't need them, so we don't use them".

On impact of neonicotinoids on beneficial insects

"For every bad insect there's seventeen hundred good ones.  Insecticides tend to take out the lot.  We'd rather lose a little bit of crop if such a thing is going to happen and rely on predators to keep our insect pests at bay but really we're trying to grow healthy crops that can look after themselves anyway"

Completely agree!  I wrote about this several years ago - we need to get 'pest' numbers in perspective - most are beneficial or benign - see this page.

Why did farmers buy neonics in the first place?

"We weren't aware at the time we were buying a problem for the wider environment and for beneficial insects".

Peter Lundgren:

Has been growing barley wheat and oil seed rape for 8 years without neonicotinoids and says he now can't see a financial reason for using them. 

He says he has not seen a loss in yields, and says it's actually saved money (on pesticides).

Indeed, various sources of evidence suggest there is no benefit, such as this US government EPA study.


He also says he is worried about the impact on soil. 

"We know these powerful insecticides are staying in our soil for upto 3 years.  If I do the decent thing and plant some wildflowers into this soil that had neonicotinoids in it this year, then do those wildflowers exhibit neonicotinoids?  Are those wildflowers damaging bees?".

Conclusion:

I do hope and believe that more and more farmers are realising that there is a need to get back to better ways of farming, and move away from intensive, high chemical based systems.  Let's be pleased and hope to see more of this positive development. More evidence here. 




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