Food value chain collaborations for smarter crop protection
Satisfying consumers’ wishes is top priority for the food value chain, starting with the farmer and leading further via trading companies, food processors, to the end retailer. BASF, a provider of farming solutions, has been partnering with different stakeholders in this chain to meet the demands of the market.
We are all consumers. We want to enjoy fresh and tasty food. And we always expect to find everything we need in the shops at our desired quality, quantity and price. This is especially the case for fruits and vegetables, when visual appearance also plays a decisive role in the purchase choice. Farmers, traders, processors and retailers are always under pressure to fulfil these demands. Thus, via collaborative programs, the food value chain has increasingly received specialised support from BASF.
Our number one partners are farmers, BASF provides them with crop protection solutions that help to produce a plentiful supply of healthy, first-class fruits and vegetables. It is also our role to provide solutions and recommendations on how best to protect crops to achieve optimum yield and quality. This increases the marketability of the produce, supporting the grower’s business and livelihood.
Our cooperation goes further: supermarkets, food processors and other food value chain players are also part of our alliances. They aim at fulfilling the consumers’ wishes as well as meeting the demands of a wide range of quality assurance schemes, production protocols and retailer standards. Together we engage in achieving the best recommendations and solutions for growers to deliver top quality produce, satisfying all market requirements.
We invite you to learn more about how BASF is leading the way with its collaborative projects with different food value chain stakeholders in Europe.
Smart Protection focuses on high value fruit and vegetable crops, aiming to help growers optimise their crop production to meet the various and demanding market standards of the food value chain.
We understand the many challenges faced by farmers and growers who work hard to meet the high demands of their customers in the food retail industry. Especially in the fresh produce sector where residue minimisation and the reliable supply of high quality produce is of special importance.
In response to the needs of our customers and partners, we continue to develop our Smart Protection concept further.
BASF’s Smart Protection spray program in France has been under active development since 2013. The program adopts a flexible approach to crop protection programs by combining chemical and biological solutions with different application technologies and timing. The goal is to achieve maximum profitability for the farmer, optimal pest and disease control as well as the production of high quality produce.
The Smart Protection program aims to support French apple farmers, enabling them to succeed in the face of ongoing challenges presented by national pesticide reduction targets and tough marketing standards required by their customers.
Since the beginning, we have been working closely with the French CTIFL organisation (Le Centre Technique Interprofessionnel des Fruits et Legumes) who were commissioned by BASF to test and elaborate the Smart Protection programs. The treatment proposals by BASF were compared with standard commercial practices in the apple varieties Gala, Tentation, Pink Lady and Granny Smith, including field sites in two major apple producing regions, Aquitaine and Loire. Where needed, the programs were improved in the light of practical experiences.
Today, the Smart Protection programs are already showing many positive benefits compared with standard practice, including:
The practical Smart Protection programs is foreseen to be used to help French apple growers thrive by providing the highest quality fruit in the face of increasingly strict regulatory conditions and customer expectations.
Fruit growers across Europe are facing many current and future challenges. These include extreme weather conditions, scarcity of vital resources, regulatory restrictions and reduced availability of pesticides. At the same time, there is an ongoing need for fruit to be produced in environmentally friendly and sustainable ways. In a highly competitive market, consumers and retailers increasingly demand high-quality, healthy and largely residue-free fruit.
Supported by BASF, the Kompetenzzentrum Obstbau-Bodensee in Bavendorf (KOB, Competence Center Fruit Production-Lake Constance in Bavendorf) has started a multi-stakeholder project to develop and demonstrate low‑residue production systems for the fruit industry in Southern Germany. The aim: to demonstrate innovative and sustainable systems for the production of high-quality fruit, including crop protection strategies designed to achieve measurable reductions in pesticide use and pesticide residues.
The core project, which is funded by the EU and the Swiss Confederation under the Interreg programme, aims to combine and refine promising cultivation and pest management strategies in model apple, cherry and, to a lesser extent, pear orchards. Conventional integrated production systems are being compared with innovative systems which aim to utilise considerably less pesticides than conventional and organic production standards. The impact of different crop cover systems, using protective films or nets, is also under investigation.
Furthermore, a comprehensive set of key parameters are being assessed and measured. These include pesticide inputs and residues, crop yield and quality, crop nutrition and energy balances. Importantly, economic profitability, cost‑benefit and sustainability are also taken into consideration. This includes the use of BASF’s AgBalanceTM tool, which has been designed to objectively measure and evaluate the sustainability performance of agricultural production systems.
The results, conclusions and recommendations stemming from the project will be communicated to growers and key stakeholders in due course by KOB and its project partners in the Interreg Research and Development programme.
For the second time, in 2015 BASF joined a collaboration with five chemical analysis laboratories in Greece aiming to achieve better crop protection programs with less residues. The way forward: analyse fruits and vegetables from specific areas and take corrective action if unacceptable residue levels were detected. When that was the case, BASF advisers talked to the respective farmers and guided them with better spray programs to minimize residue levels.
Just one year into the project, McCain – globally known for their frozen French fries – started a similar project. With ‘Fruit of Care’, McCain aims to support local potato farmers. Their project includes improved crop quality, knowledge transfer and the creation of job prospects for the young and unemployed. Among others, BASF joined the project to provide their expertise in crop protection and residue management. The focus here is fresh potato production. In 2017, the program will run for its third consecutive year.
BASF Greece is highly engaged in the McCain potato project as well as other monitoring projects, such as monitoring apples, cherries, table grapes, lettuce, olives and peppers. Close cooperation partners are usually farmers, agronomists and crop protection advisers, as we understand that the impact is maximized through the support and cooperation of a range of stakeholders.
Turkey is a world leading producer of seedless dried grapes, also known as raisins. The export of fresh table grapes and raisins to European countries, notably the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, is of major commercial importance to Turkish producers and suppliers.
Producers and suppliers carefully manage the use of plant protection products and regularly monitor the levels of residues. This monitoring ensures that residues are under the statutory maximum residue levels (MRLs) as well as complying with MRLs applied in export destination countries.
This process gives assurances to all stakeholders in the food value chain that plant protection products are being used according to label instructions and in compliance with Good Agricultural Practice.
BASF’s new class-leading fungicide, Sercadis, containing Xemium®, was authorised for use on grapes in Turkey starting in 2017.
Leading up to the launch of Sercadis, BASF Turkey worked closely with a group of over 20 leading grape and raisin growers to understand the residue behaviour of the new product under real-life commercial conditions.
Participating growers were given the opportunity to apply Sercadis according to BASF recommendations for the control of powdery mildew, an extremely damaging disease of grapes.
At harvest time, grapes were immediately sent to an accredited analytical laboratory for residue analysis. The residue results were subsequently evaluated and shared with the group of project growers.
The results revealed that Sercadis residues in grapes remain very low at harvest and also after processing into raisins – meeting the required regulatory MRL levels.
The findings of this ongoing demonstration project are helping growers understand and manage the residue characteristics of Sercadis.
Furthermore, by following our best practice Smart Protection guidelines, Sercadis residues at harvest were often shown to be non-detectable (i.e. less than 0.01 mg/kg) in grapes and raisins.
This project is providing growers with the knowledge and experience to use Sercadis to its full benefits. It helps them to achieve the highest standards of disease control whilst minimising residues to meet the testing requirements of their export markets.
Fresh and sweet table grapes are loved by everyone. But we often take for granted the plentiful and affordable supply of high-quality grapes that are always available on our supermarket shelves. In Italy, BASF has been working on a new initiative to help table grape growers improve the quality and marketability of their produce.
Table grapes are a sensitive high-input crop; growers have to work hard to achieve the required appearance, taste and general healthy appeal that retailers and consumers demand.
Perfect table grapes need constant care and detailed attention by the grower. Crop protection remains a big challenge. Extreme weather and the threat of diseases and pests are a constant threat. In 2014, BASF initiated a project to develop best‑practice Smart Protection programs for table grapes in Italy.
Key partners in this ongoing collaborative project include a leading independent agricultural consultancy group and selected growers in southern Italy. To achieve the highest quality table grapes, crop protection programmes must be intensively managed and monitored for residues to help growers successfully market their produce, meeting a challenging range of marketing and accreditation standards.
BASF provides a baseline crop protection programme which is then implemented by the selected crop consultants, in conjunction with their clients, the growers. Together with the growers, the crop protection recommendations are managed under real life commercial conditions. Towards harvest time, BASF provides support for laboratory analysis of residues in the ripening grapes.Valuable data is subsequently generated to guide best practices and to refine the Smart Protection approach towards residue minimisation.
As experience is gained in this project, advice for table grape growers will be improved and communicated to a many growers – reached by the project collaboration of independent crop consultants and the local BASF Crop Protection team.
The real winners are farmers: they receive optimised spray programs to support their production of high-quality fruits – attaining the highest standards expected by retailers and consumers alike.