UNESCO proclaimed November 26 as World Olive Tree Day in 2019
Valued by humans for more than 100,000 years, the humble olive may seem an odd crop around which to build a civilisation.
Yet along with grapes and grain, it was the olive that made up the ‘trinity’ of staple goods on which the might and heft of Greek civilisation was founded.
Today, its global ubiquity – a preferred cooking oil, a go-to snack, the veritable cocktail olive, even cosmetics and ‘nutraceuticals’ – supports a global industry that stretches far beyond the olive tree’s Mediterranean origins. An estimated 850 million olive trees grow worldwide, yielding an annual crop of more than 10 million tonnes.
For the farmers who rely on the olive – Spain is the world’s biggest producer, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of the global harvest – it’s a commodity crop. Nevertheless, it’s a crop unlike any other, thanks to the spiritual and cultural connotations it’s acquired during its long history with humans.
From the earliest times, we know that olive oil was considered sacred and holy: the 400 million people who watched the coronation of the United Kingdom’s King Charles III in May may not have known it, but during the most sacred part of the ceremony a special oil, created from olives harvested from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, was used to anoint the country’s new monarch.
Meanwhile the tree has lent itself to diverse symbolism of wisdom, fertility, power and purity. Most notably, the olive branch is regarded as a sign of peace – a practice dating back to those ancient Greeks, who used consignments of olives as a diplomatic gift to the Egyptian pharaohs.
In declaring World Olive Tree Day, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, perhaps described it most succinctly and eloquently:
“The olive tree is therefore a universal tree, which has accompanied humanity for thousands of years, embodying its aspirations; because with its legendary longevity and ability to rise from its ashes, it reaches beyond the short-sightedness of the moment: planting an olive tree and eating its fruit is to join the chain of humanity.”
In establishing the Day, UNESCO – whose ultimate ‘parent’ body, the United Nations, incorporates two olive branches in its flag – sought to encourage the protection of the olive tree and the values in embodies. By recognising the tree with a Day, UNESCO recognises its important social, cultural, economic and environmental significance to humanity.
Elevating the olive tree’s importance couldn’t happen at a more opportune time. UNESCO points out that conserving and cultivating the olive tree is a ‘growing imperative’ as the world combats and adapts to climate change.
The years 2022 and 2023 have served to highlight that threat. For a second year, the world’s olive harvest has been struck by a combination of extreme heat, wildfires and drought. In May 2023, Spain reported a drop in production of nearly 50 per cent; September saw the US Department of Agriculture revise its global olive oil production estimate to a quarter lower than 2022 and the five-year average.
What’s more concerning is how it’s not just Spanish producers who are suffering: Apulia, Italy’s most important olive oil production region, has been heavily affected by storms in recent weeks, damaging the imminent harvest for the world’s second most important producer.
And the story continues throughout the Mediterranean with similar stories in Portugal, Tunisia, Greece and Morocco. Indeed, the threat of dwindling supplies has pushed olive oil prices 130 percent higher than a year ago. It’s now ten times more expensive than crude oil.
It’s a very worrying situation, especially as the root cause – climate change – is a factor causing difficulty and upheaval in other key crop markets, too.
Here at FertiGlobal, we’re ultimately focused on providing farmers of all crops with solutions to deliver a more sustainable agriculture. As World Olive Tree Day approaches, we’re looking ahead to the next crop season with our own olive branch to growers: we’re working hard to make our advanced agricultural technologies, such as EnNuVi, supported in olive agronomy.
We believe there’s an opportunity to bring our Total Crop Management approach to the olive grove. By focusing on the defence mechanisms naturally present in the plant, we can improve its tolerance to extreme biotic (pest and disease) and abiotic (environmental) stresses. A vital lifeline for this vital industry, yes – but also an opportunity to demonstrate the validity of the European Green Deal, and its objectives to reduce the use of plant protection products and artificial fertilisers.
EnNuVi encompasses a wide portfolio of products. Get in touch with us to discover how to bring EnNuVi into your own integrated crop nutrition plan.
We focus a lot on the UN’s various designated ‘days of action’ here at FertiGlobal, because they serve real purpose in drawing attention to things that matter, especially those in which we can identify our own principles and objectives.
But there’s one day in the year that really stands out – and not just for us. World Food Day is one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. Established in 1979 to honour the anniversary of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and first observed in 1981, the day is now recognised with collective action across more than 150 countries, in up to 50 languages. World Food Day underlines awareness of hunger and encourages action for the future of food, people and the planet.
To this end, every year World Food Day adopts a fresh theme to give new impetus to its work and to highlight areas where action should focus. In many countries, despite the importance of agriculture as a significant component of developing countries’ economies, all too often there’s not enough money available from public funds to underwrite the investment required to realise action; the private sector is valuable in making up this shortfall.
By using a theme to draw attention, private and public investment can be directed towards the most pressing needs. In 2023, that’s water: Water is life, Water is food. Leave no one behind.
The significance of this? Well, just 2.5% of the world’s water is naturally fresh, making it suitable for drinking, agriculture and other industrial uses. The UN describes this invaluable resource as ‘the driving force for people, economies and nature and the foundation of our food’.
But agriculture accounts for 72% of the world’s freshwater use – and it’s not infinite.
It’s especially not infinite when you consider the background against which we are using it: population growth, climate change, urbanisation and economic development. Our planet’s water resources are stressed: indeed, freshwater resources per person have declined by 20% in recent decades. How much further can we push it?
Not much, given that 2.4 billion people now live in water-stressed countries. For years we’ve worried that water scarcity will create the conflicts of the 21st century; in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Laos, India, Somalia, Bolivia and beyond, these concerns are already erupting into protests and transboundary disputes.
So it’s time to start managing water more wisely – using less of it to produce food and other commodities, and being more equitable when it comes to distribution and access. While governments and supranational organisations undoubtedly have their roles to play in designing and promoting policies that will achieve wiser water use, so too does the consumer. The UN points out that we – the general public – can make a difference by choosing local, seasonal and fresh foods, wasting less of it (including less food waste) and finding safe ways to reuse it while preventing water pollution.
As innovators ourselves, we love the attention being paid to agricultural water innovation throughout the world. Take the British company Alvatech, for example: its research is focused on conserving valuable irrigation water by making saline water usable in the field. Then there’s the work being conducted by institutions such as the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, where successful attempts are being made to promote the safe use of wastewater for agriculture. And a special mention to the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska, in the US, where they’re not only working on new techniques for good water management practice, but developing the understanding and leadership that we need to manage water sustainably and increase food security.
Of course, we’re not without our own innovations, too. Keeping plants healthy and well-fed, with the right amount of the right nutrients delivered at the right time – that’s a sure-fire way to delivering plants that can cope better with the rigours of climate change, by making them more resilient to drought stress.
And as we never tire of explaining, FertiGlobal’s Total Crop Management approach is designed with both the grower and the environment in mind: helping growers to make the right decisions and take the right steps in successful crop management ensures we’re making better use of the precious resources needed by agriculture. That means we can grow more with less – and that’s a principle that, delivered by farmers across the world, will go a long way to reducing the misery of hunger.
So, this World Food Day, October 16th – think about what you can do for the future of food, people and the planet, especially when it comes to water use. Read more about it here
If you’re enjoying a cup of coffee while reading this post, you’re likely to be in good company: coffee is the world’s most popular drink, with an estimated two billion cups consumed every day.
But for the farmers around the world who grow the plants that yield the coffee beans that are roast and ground to fill that cup of yours, coffee is more than just a commodity and a global market worth more than $90bn: it’s their way of life. Helping them to improve the way they farm – boosting quality, improving yields, and providing better market access to realise more of the value of their crop – can help millions of smallholder farmers grow themselves out of poverty.
That’s just one of the reasons behind International Coffee Day, celebrated annually on October 1. Behind this day of awareness is the International Coffee Organization (ICO), which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary. It’s the only intergovernmental organisation for coffee, bringing together exporting and importing governments, and representing an astonishing 93% of world coffee production, and 63% of consumption.
International Coffee Day acts as a lightning rod to highlight the work of ICO throughout the year: focused on strengthening the coffee sector, it is particularly attuned to the importance of promoting sustainable expansion to benefit everyone within the value chain, from grower to consumer. Good practice in coffee production can make a significant contribution to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals by generating income, creating employment opportunities and releasing families and even whole communities from poverty.
What’s remarkable about International Coffee Day is that it’s pushing at an open door: consumers’ interest in traceability and transparency is growing rapidly, and it’s no coincidence that fair-trading initiatives – with special attention to product quality and origin – have proved successful in the coffee market. That’s particularly important given its structure: coffee is usually exported from producer countries at a very early stage in its value chain, reducing opportunities to retain value.
The inexorable demand for coffee from the world’s consumers has had an impact on coffee’s sustainability, too. Traditionally, coffee is grown as an ‘understory’ crop – grown in shade, under the canopy of trees in a forest. In pursuit of increased production, more aggressive systems have been adopted. Yet those traditional systems offer many benefits, not least in fighting climate change impacts: carbon capture, soil retention, and preservation of biodiversity being amongst the most important.
Unsurprisingly, given FertiGlobal’s commitment to a more sustainable form of agriculture, coffee has been a focus crop for our research and development team. Our Total Crop Management approach is well-suited to coffee: by improving a plant’s resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses, through appropriate nutrition and product selection, farmers can better mitigate the effects of climate change. Coffee is highly sensitive to even slight changes in temperature and rainfall. World Coffee Research, a non-profit research and development organisation, points out that a crop of coffee planted today will, over its 20-60 year lifespan, bear the brunt of climate change. One fifth of the world’s coffee area may face up to 5 months of drought by 2050 (zero today), while 80% of the coffee area is likely to face maximum temperatures higher than 30°C. Coffee’s optimum temperature range is 18-21°C.
With this goal of resilience in mind, we’re delighted to be working with one of the world’s biggest names in coffee (sorry, we can’t reveal who!) on a new development in Brazil. Ethics and sustainability are of the highest priority for this producer, but they’re also focused on nothing less than the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to the quality of the beans they buy, selecting only from the top 1%.
Already a year into the project, we’ve collaborated with their agronomist team to establish a coffee-specific Total Crop Management programme. Initial work has seen innovative monitoring systems deployed to identify and combat plant stress, the aim being to maintain and increase bean yield and quality. More recently, the focus has widened to include disease monitoring – specifically, a system that can predict or anticipate the onset of coffee rust.
Coffee rust, caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix, is the world’s most economically significant coffee disease. Once leaves are infected, they drop prematurely – depressing photosynthetic activity and weakening the tree. Because next year’s berries are borne on the previous season’s shoots, rust in one season influences the following season’s yields. Nutritional status is associated with the plant’s susceptibility to rust – hence the importance of a Total Crop Management approach – but further benefit will certainly be achieved from a system that can anticipate the development of the disease.
You’ve probably finished that cup of coffee by now. Go and pour yourself another one. But this time, savour it even more with the knowledge that FertiGlobal’s working hard to see its commitment to sustainable agriculture manifested in the humble coffee bean – with far from humble effects for the growers who meet our daily demand.
We don’t talk enough about food loss and waste, even within agriculture, but if you knew that 30% of the world’s agricultural land is producing food that is never going to get eaten, wouldn’t you want to know why? Wouldn’t you want to do something about it?
At FertiGlobal, we’re committed to playing our part in making agriculture more sustainable. Ultimately, that means doing more with less, and making better use of the resources available to us. Today, September 29, is the United Nations’ International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, established to raise awareness and help promote a global effort to address it.
We’re staunch supporters, not least because our whole philosophy here at FertiGlobal is about helping farmers get the most from the land they farm.
Let’s first look at some facts. Nearly a billion people faced the despair of hunger in 2022, yet we lost 13 per cent of the world’s food between the points of harvest and retail. If you thought that was bad, what about the 17 per cent of global food production wasted by households, food service industries and retailers? How can we justify these losses when so many people are going hungry?
It’s more than social consciousness, too. Food loss and waste do much to undermine the sustainability of global food systems. Water, land, farm inputs, energy, labour and capital are all wasted when food is wasted. What’s more, at a time when we’re more attuned than ever to the growing threat – and reality, after a year of record-breaking temperatures, devastating droughts and rampant wildfires – of climate change, food loss and waste is a ‘low hanging fruit’ as we seek to reduce emissions.
Agriculture already accounts for around one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. But the level of food loss and waste we currently experience equates to a completely unnecessary and avoidable 7% of emissions that we could – if there’s both the will and the way – remove immediately.
Of course, such a change won’t happen overnight. That’s why the United Nations’ International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction is so important: we need to improve understanding and change behaviour at every level of society, from farmers to consumers. This is a problem we must tackle together.
We’re acutely aware of our own responsibilities here at FertiGlobal. That is why we’re so invested in our Total Crop Management approach to crop production, crop health and crop nutrition. From the very moment a crop is sown, we can empower growers to make the right decisions and take the right steps to ensure that its needs are met, and its yield potential realised. By encouraging such practices, we make more efficient use of scant and precious resources – ultimately leading to that happy state of being able to grow more with less.
But it’s not just in the field that these decisions and practices have an effect. Using the right products at the right time can ensure that harvest takes place at an appropriate time – meaning less chance of produce being left in the field, for example. A healthy crop in the field also means a longer-lasting crop in store: fruit with adequate calcium levels, for instance, will be less susceptible to damage during handling and processing, more resilient to pathogens, and more likely to exhibit a longer shelf-life.
In a global society that’s perhaps more divided, more disunited, than ever before, food remains the great leveller: the one thing that no-one can do without. It’s not for nothing that people say farming is the most important job in the world, because without our farmers and growers, life would no longer be as we know it.
It’s in all our interests to make food production more productive, less wasteful, and less damaging to our environment. It’s within everyone’s ability to contribute to the effort: a farmer seeking out the crop inputs that can have a lasting effect on food’s durability and longevity through the food chain, the consumer who commits to wasting less of that carefully grown produce, a retailer using technology to improve logistics and shelf life, or the agricultural supplier doing the legwork to develop the products that can support a more responsible, sustainable agricultural industry and a less wasteful food system.
It’s this last role we’re proud to be fulfilling ourselves, here at FertiGlobal.
What action will you commit to undertake on Food Loss and Awareness Day?
Regularly referred to as China’s ‘first county’ for strawberries, the city of Donggang – in the country’s north-eastern Liaoning province – has more than 80 years of experience in cultivating the ever-popular berry.
As the most established strawberry production zone in China – itself the world’s largest producer and consumer of strawberries – the crop’s planting area in Donggang continues to expand: even the pandemic marked only a blip in production, as production jumped from 9,867 hectares in 2019 to cover more than 13,300 ha in 2021.
No surprise then that Donggang played host last month to the first China Strawberry Industry Development Conference, a two-day event bringing together the entire strawberry supply chain. On the programme: knowledge exchange, product launches, field visits and networking.
FertiGlobal was there too: we’ve seen some impressive results in Chinese strawberry crops with two of our products, Yinnongwei (Mantus) and Weixiao (Tages). We wanted to share those findings with a wider audience, and what better place than Donggang?
We took the bold step of becoming a co-sponsor of the conference, joining well-known organisations such as Donggang Agricultural and Rural Bureau, the China Horticultural Society Strawberry Branch, and Liaoning Donggang Strawberry Association, to meet more than 600 representatives from 18 provinces and cities across China.
And what a meeting it turned out to be: it’s so encouraging to see our Total Crop Management philosophy, embedded in all our products, receive such good reception whenever we share it with a new audience. Protection of soil, seed, plant, yield or farmer, this crucial aspect is common to every FertiGlobal product. Our products offer protection from beginning to end of a crop’s lifecycle and throughout our customers’ farming businesses.
In both Mantus and Tages are embedded the same innovative, breakthrough technologies – using the best, high quality, bioavailable compounds – that stimulate the crop’s natural defence processes. When we prioritise plant health, we avoid situations that can allow specific problems to develop. Thus there’s no need for individual, specific solutions. It reflects FertiGlobal’s basic tenet – optimising a crop’s yield potential is totally dependent on optimum plant health.
It’s a story that resonated with those at the show, with customers agreeing purchase orders during the event. We’ll look forward to following up with these customers as the season develops: the region produces fruit from November to June, with March through May typically the peak months. Hongyan strawberries are the most famous local variety, thanks to their colour, flavour and consistent quality. They also store well and can be transported long-distances, which is a great advantage towards the end of the season, when they are often the last domestically produced berries available.
EnNuVi highlights role of speciality fertilisers in China
As the world’s largest consumer of agricultural fertiliser, ahead of India, the USA and Brazil, China is an important market for any company that’s concerned with changing farmers’ perceptions about fertiliser use and efficiency.
What better opportunity for FertiGlobal – under its ‘local’ name of SCL China – to sponsor one of China’s most high-profile conferences about fertiliser? Run by the China National Chemical Information Centre (CNCIC), a consulting, research and information unit servicing the chemical industry of China, the Global Specialty Fertiliser Convention has been an annual fixture for the last 16 years.
With objectives to promote and advance fertiliser industry development, and a special focus on innovation and speciality products, the event was held this year in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province and the third most populous city in Western China.
There are more than 20,000 speciality fertiliser products registered in China, demonstrative of the importance attached to value-added fertilisers as China strives to improve its agricultural efficiency and productivity. CNCIC itself expects speciality fertiliser to account for more than a quarter of total sales in China by 2025.
FertiGlobal mirrored the convention’s focus on speciality products by focusing on EnNuVi, our unique approach to crop health and productivity.
EnNuVi stands for ENhancing, NUrturing, and VItalising crops – an approach we’ve adopted to enhance crop resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses at scale, in order to boost crop quality, productivity and soil health.
Combining bioactive polyphenols with select natural ingredients, EnNuVi has been developed to trigger and control plant natural defence and resistance mechanisms. Boosted thus, the crop is better able to defend and protect itself from stressors such as pathogens, droughts, high temperatures and floods.
But there’s two sides to the EnNuVi story. Not only does it deploy an optimal nutrition strategy, focusing on the entire plant lifecycle – our innovative Total Crop Management approach – it also benefits from an optimised formulation that enables a more efficient product delivery to the plant. Farmers not only save money and reduce environmental impact with this resource-efficient approach, EnNuVi also helps farmers adapt to farming with less recourse to conventional chemicals.
EnNuVi’s benefits have shown themselves in trials, where treated crops demonstrate a significant yield increase per hectare, for example in the raised sugar content of sugar beet.
China, alongside the European Union and United States, has already granted EnNuVi a patent for its technology – something that Sun Jin, CEO of SCL China, was keen to emphasise during his attendance at the event. Customers from across the country expressed their interest in the EnNuVi product range, ably informed by representative Zhenjunhua Liu who explained the sustainable development of the products and their potential applications across a variety of common crops in China.
Climate change, deforestation, urbanisation and demographic changes are just some of the challenges facing the tropical region – but each of them also has a direct effect on agriculture.
So the claim – from the UN – that ‘the future belongs to the tropics’ may be a bold one, but it’s valid. By 2050 – when the world’s population is expected to nudge 10 billion – the tropical region will host most of the world’s population and two-thirds of its children.
Bear in mind that the region also has just over half the world’s renewable water resources, that this is the region of the world considered most vulnerable to water stress, and that more people in this region experience undernourishment than anywhere else in the world – and it’s clear that the pressures on tropical agriculture to deliver high yields of quality crops, year after year, are immense.
The UN designated June 29 as International Day of the Tropics seven years ago, in 2014, with the intention of celebrating the ‘extraordinary diversity’ of the region, while highlighting its unique challenges and opportunities.
Unlike many of the UN’s ‘International Days’, the Day of the Tropics carries no annual theme: it’s designed to help people understand the region, to acknowledge its diversity and potential, and to share the region’s stories and expertise.
For us at FertiGlobal, it’s this final point – expertise – that we want most to talk about. We’re committed to providing the world’s farmers with solutions that help them to farm more sustainably, more responsibly and more productively. These objectives, underpinned by FertiGlobal’s innovative approach and often novel perspective on crop nutrition solutions – defined as ‘the FertiGlobal difference’ – have even greater relevance in the tropics.
Countries like India and the Philippines – where FertiGlobal has a strong presence – are firmly in the tropical agricultural zone. Crops in these regions are among the most diverse in the world: cereals, pulses, vegetables, nuts, spices, fruits, and few other regions of the world are so reliant on agriculture not just for food, but for socio-economic reasons: this is smallholder agriculture country, where whole families not only work on their farms but depend on them. But this is another challenge facing tropical agriculture: migration from rural to urban areas depletes the farming workforce, and a growing urban population places ever-greater pressure on a dwindling rural population to meet the demand for food. That’s why maximising crop efficiencies and optimising yields, in the face of coming climate change, is such an important priority for agriculture in the tropics.
At FertiGlobal, we always strive to put the farmer first: by understanding their needs for innovation, for yield optimisation, to reduce their impact on the environment – we also make progress towards our own objectives: delivering crop management for sustainable agriculture.
For this reason we’re proud to support the UN’s International Day of the Tropics: not just acknowledging its potential, but sharing the expertise that’s needed to realise that potential in agriculture.
Environmental awareness has come a long way since the first celebration of World Environment Day in 1973.
It was December 15, 1972, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to designate June 5 as World Environment Day. Announcing the news, the Assembly urged “Governments and the organisations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year world-wide activities reaffirming their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment.”
That same month, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) came into existence: in the 50 years since, World Environment Day has been the lightning rod to raise awareness and generate political momentum around a host of environmental issues and concerns.
Today, it’s a global platform for taking action on urgent environmental issues, helping drive change not only in the world’s consumption habits but also national and international environmental policies.
Beat plastic pollution in 2023
In 2023, the UN is using World Environment Day for a call to beat plastic pollution. Every year, the world works its way through 400 million tonnes of plastic – and every day, the equivalent of 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic is dumped. Dumped into rivers, seas and lakes, this has catastrophic consequences, with microplastics pervading food, water and air.
It’s not just food, water and air – it’s our soils, too. At FertiGlobal, we strongly support the UN’s mission to focus on plastic pollution, particularly because of the importance of keeping our soils healthy and free from pollution. Research shows how the presence of plastic in soils can have a deleterious effect on soil health, productivity and biodiversity. Healthy soils mean healthy crops, which in turn produce an abundance of healthy food.
We’re especially pleased with the emergence of a legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution but recognise that agriculture can often be part of the problem. We’re one of many companies for whom plastic plays an important role; indeed, the entire plant protection industry relies on plastics to ensure safe, effective and inexpensive packaging to convey products between their point of manufacture and their application. Use of plastic bottles for our products leads to savings of up to 40% on distribution fuel costs, for example, with resulting reductions in emissions and pollution.
Yet many plastics used in agriculture are, by their nature, single-use. Besides plastic packaging, plastic products used in agriculture include mulch and silage films, irrigation equipment, fruit netting, fleece, and various coatings used for fertilizers and seeds.
Despite the benefits these various plastics bring to agriculture, when improperly disposed of – agriculture accounts for around two per cent of the global usage of plastics – they become a threat to food security, food safety and human health.
At FertiGlobal, we believe in doing whatever we can to reduce and eliminate the environmental issues connected with the use of plastics in agriculture. Our focus is a more sustainable agriculture: that means we must promote sustainability across all dimensions, up and down the value chain.
For our part, we’re already taking steps towards a more responsible use of plastics. For instance, our roll-out of smaller volume packaging not only makes sense in addressing the needs of smaller volume producers, but also directly reduces the volume of plastic we require. We’re also keen to ensure that we’re responsible in helping our customers to do the right thing with plastics: reduce, re-use, recycle, wherever possible.
But re-using or recycling certain agricultural plastics is difficult or impossible. Schemes for collection and disposal of agricultural plastics vary widely between countries, even within Europe. Farmers in France have a voluntary collection and recycling scheme across all products, while in Norway the schemes are mandatory. Research by FAO in 2019 found that many countries have no dedicated pesticide container management plans
Be responsible on your farm
To mark World Environment Day in 2023, and to help our customers beat plastic pollution themselves, we put together some brief pointers:
What are all the ways in which your farm uses plastics?
Which pose the highest risk?
The FAO has assessed [https://www.fao.org/3/cb7856en/cb7856en.pdf] various agricultural plastic products, compiling a relative risk rating.
Which ones can you do something about? For example, polymer-coated slow-release fertilizers have the highest risk – but these are beginning to be superseded by true biodegradable products.
How can you be more responsible?
Be sure to register for any mandatory agricultural plastics collection schemes in your country;
Where mandatory schemes don’t exist, be sure to comply with at least the minimum requirements in your country, but;
Investigate opportunities to go beyond the bare minimum required, and;
Don’t take shortcuts – always dispose of plastics responsibly.
We can’t avoid plastics in agriculture, but if we’re going to continue to use them – and protect our soils, water, air and health – we have to be responsible.
Why not tell us what you’re doing on your farm? Use the hashtag #BeatAgPlasticPollution to share your story!
It’s one of our most important resources, yet we waste or lose one-third of it.
When viewed at a global scale, the issue of food waste is not only on a par with the biggest topics of our day, but intricately connected with them: hunger and poverty, climate change, and health and wellbeing.
Most of all, it massively affects agriculture’s bold attempts to be sustainable: wasting food is a waste of the energy and resources involved in growing, harvesting, processing and preparing food for consumption. That’s why FertiGlobal is a staunch supporter of Stop Food Waste Day, held this year on Wednesday, 26 April.
Originally set up in 2017 by Compass Group USA, one of the leading foodservice companies, the day has become a global phenomenon with the intention to educate everyone involved in the food chain – that’s the planet’s entire human population – about the importance of adopting new attitudes and behaviours in our approach to food and the way we use it.
And while much of Stop Food Waste Day’s activities are directed further down the food chain – at chefs and industry leaders and food influencers and consumers – at FertiGlobal we’re determined to play our part in helping our farmers, those who produce our valued food, to get the most from their fields and their crops to help reduce food waste ‘at source’, as it were.
That’s because our products focus on protection. Soil, seed, plant, yield or farmer – our products are designed to offer protection from beginning to end of the crop life cycle, using our Total Crop Management philosophy.
Why is that important? Firstly, it’s the obvious: farmers want to ensure they get the most from their crop. It’s an investment from which they want the best return. Total Crop Management, with its holistic approach, looks at the crop’s entire lifecycle. Realising yield potential is dependent on optimising plant health: a healthy plant delivers not just a healthy yield, but a marketable yield. Because potatoes that are too small, or lettuces that are too ‘leggy’, might not even make it out of the field and certainly won’t get beyond the farm gate. That’s one of the first ‘stations’ on the route to wasting one-third of the food we produce.
Secondly, we recognise that for the produce that does make it beyond the farm gate, farmers can’t control what happens to it. Its fate is in someone else’s hands. But, by exercising their choice in product selection, they can invest beyond the farm gate. Shelf life, resistance to moulds, less susceptibility to damage during handling and processing – all these desirable characteristics are concurrent with a healthy plant that’s had its natural defence processes stimulated by our high quality, bioavailable compounds.
FertiGlobal products are an investment in the food chain. We’re helping to minimise food waste and, in so doing, bring about the more sustainable, more profitable and more productive approach to agriculture that will help alleviate those interconnected topics previously highlighted.
What can you do to raise awareness of food waste? What attitudes and behaviours can you change, either in yourself or in others? To find out more, and access all the resources and more inspiration, go to the Stop Food Waste Day website.
Ginger: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this fragrant spice? One of the oldest spices known to man and used in different ways throughout the world, your ginger ‘preference’ – a drink, a cooked dish, baked goods, a snack, perhaps a medicine – will give a good indication of where in the world you come from.
Ginger’s been cultivated by humans for so long that, like staple crops such as wheat and maize, it’s become what’s known as a ‘cultigen’: a plant that’s been bred and domesticated into a form that doesn’t exist in the wild. And while ginger is still a relatively minor crop – annual production tops out at about 4.3 million tonnes – it’s considerably more plentiful than pepper, at around 750,000 tonnes, often said to be the world’s most popular spice.
What’s FertiGlobal’s interest in it? Well, most of the ginger grown in the world today – around 4.3 million tonnes – is grown in India. We’ve talked before about our fascination with this important agricultural country. Ginger’s just one of the many crops that contributes to India’s agricultural diversity and, with many of India’s farmers moving beyond the traditional ‘homestead’ farming practices, there’s a real appetite for adopting new and more productive practices.
Overhauling ginger’s agronomy is one such example. But we also like to demonstrate how, through our growing global network of partners and distributors, FertiGlobal is developing solutions and sharing knowledge about all crops, not just the half dozen or so that usually attract most of the attention.
Ginger’s also a great example of our total crop management approach: how we think about every crop throughout its lifecycle. With a preference for a warm and humid climate, ginger can be particularly susceptible to fungal diseases. But, as we know, a plant that has satisfied its nutritional requirements will be better placed to stimulate its own natural defence processes: in other words, a healthy plant will stay healthy.
For example, current agronomic practices in India often encourage use of toxic chemicals whose use in the EU is now banned, such as mancozeb; severely restricted, such as malathion; or which have never been licensed, such as the antibiotic streptocycline. While little of India’s ginger production ends up on the world market – despite being the largest producer, it’s only the seventh-largest exporter – if India is to realise its ambition to compete in agricultural markets worldwide, its farmers must abstain from using such outdated crop protection solutions.
That’s why, in conjunction with SCL Commercial India, we undertook trials last year to examine the effectiveness of Dinamico+Nixi on ginger. Good leaf growth, strong vigour, healthy leaves and improved productivity were the results – and all without using dangerous chemicals that pose risks to farmers, consumers and the soil itself.
It’s another great example of the FertiGlobal difference.