Sustainability and Water

Last week I was giving a talk on the Growing Jobs Project to the British Independent Fruitgrowers association’s Technical Day

What was particularly interesting was that all of the talks had working sustainably at the core of  what the speaker had to say.

The science was all about managing pest control to minimize or eliminate pesticide residues with a lot of work being done at East Malling on that subject.  We had a presentation on Garlic as a tree wash and natural insect repellent and two talks about managing labour in a way that increases how long it lasts.

The speaker from Waitrose was also explaining how they were building more longer lasting relationships with their growers while a very interesting talk was given by Emily Durrant who has worked with organisations such as Heineken and Bulmers and has done some work developing a sustainability index for fruit growers.

The index covered these dimensions

  1. Farmer and Local Community
  2. Social and Cultural Wellbeing
  3. Environmental Pollution
  4. Natural Resource Use
  5. Biological Resources

Emily said that this sounds quite complicated but that it really boiled down to

Growing lots of quality apples at a fair price  for a long time. That seems fair enough

The most serious thing that I took away was that  the one thing that all the speakers referred to was the need to use water more effectively.  There is certainly going to be  increasing competition for water in  the supply chain for fresh produce over the coming decades and all growers should have a strategy for dealing with this emerging issue.

I felt glad that we were following Lowaters in installing a rainwater harvesting system in our own nursery.

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