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Thread: Are pesticides a good idea?

  1. #1
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    Are pesticides a good idea?

    We farmers are responsible for a lot of land. Many of us treat our crops against insects. Why?

    The system we all work with depends on insects, worms,beetles,bacteria, fungi, to remain productive.
    The only clever way for us to work is to understand the happy ballances, and not to try to kill every last living thing in our fields.

    Yes, I'm an old hippie organic farmer living out in the wild north.But I am right.I have made a living on 150 acres of west shore land in Orkney for over 30 years.
    Why do any of you really have to sow pesticide-treated seeds or spray against leatherjackets or pollen beetles?

    You should think before you kill the system you rely on.

  2. #2
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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Nice provocative post, well done!

    I'm sure someone will bite at some point although you are starting to sound like a walking advert for green activism rather than a farmer.
    Stay in Northamptonshire - meadowviewcottages.co.uk

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    I'm organic, can see your point but not sure I'd wholly agree with you. Organic will never feed to world, we produce a lifestyle product for those who wish to afford it!!

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    We have an unnatural number of people on the planet, so we have to employ unnatural agriculture to feed them.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaliptrot View Post
    We farmers are responsible for a lot of land. Many of us treat our crops against insects. Why?

    The system we all work with depends on insects, worms,beetles,bacteria, fungi, to remain productive.
    The only clever way for us to work is to understand the happy ballances, and not to try to kill every last living thing in our fields.

    Yes, I'm an old hippie organic farmer living out in the wild north.But I am right.I have made a living on 150 acres of west shore land in Orkney for over 30 years.
    Why do any of you really have to sow pesticide-treated seeds or spray against leatherjackets or pollen beetles?

    You should think before you kill the system you rely on.
    We tend to grow monocultures because it is easiest to sell and harvest them than polyculture which is natures way. Farming is not a natural process - even hippy organic farmers are potentially more destructive than allowing climax vegetation to develop in the natural way, but you can't make a living out of farming it then!

    But there are some problems with some pesticides for sure. Maybe it is that because beneficial insects don't have an economic value we tend to overlook their value?

    One day though I think we will leave insecticides behind.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaliptrot View Post
    We farmers are responsible for a lot of land. Many of us treat our crops against insects. Why?

    The system we all work with depends on insects, worms,beetles,bacteria, fungi, to remain productive.
    The only clever way for us to work is to understand the happy ballances, and not to try to kill every last living thing in our fields.

    Yes, I'm an old hippie organic farmer living out in the wild north.But I am right.I have made a living on 150 acres of west shore land in Orkney for over 30 years.
    Why do any of you really have to sow pesticide-treated seeds or spray against leatherjackets or pollen beetles?

    You should think before you kill the system you rely on.
    Just an example of why..... We ran an 'experiment' last year, where for various reasons involved in moving farm, lambing, etc, an 8ac field of Spring Barley, ploughed out of pp, didn't get spotted/sprayed with insecticide when it should have. It was more or less wiped out by wireworms and we got about 4t of grain off that field, less than a quarter of what the rest of the SB averaged.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaliptrot View Post
    We farmers are responsible for a lot of land. Many of us treat our crops against insects. Why?

    The system we all work with depends on insects, worms,beetles,bacteria, fungi, to remain productive.
    The only clever way for us to work is to understand the happy ballances, and not to try to kill every last living thing in our fields.

    Yes, I'm an old hippie organic farmer living out in the wild north.But I am right.I have made a living on 150 acres of west shore land in Orkney for over 30 years.
    Why do any of you really have to sow pesticide-treated seeds or spray against leatherjackets or pollen beetles?

    You should think before you kill the system you rely on.
    I agree with you to some extent. Prophylactic spraying for something 'because its the right day on the calendar' is not an acceptable form of pest control. But equally, your system cannot feed the world - a good IPM strategy combining cultural controls, natural predators and chemicals when necessary is surely the best compromise?

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilO View Post
    Just an example of why..... We ran an 'experiment' last year, where for various reasons involved in moving farm, lambing, etc, an 8ac field of Spring Barley, ploughed out of pp, didn't get spotted/sprayed with insecticide when it should have. It was more or less wiped out by wireworms and we got about 4t of grain off that field, less than a quarter of what the rest of the SB averaged.
    That is a common occurrence Neil.
    But, you could have avoided the problem by burning off the grass 2 or 3 months before you drilled the barley and so destroyed the green bridge between the crops.
    I am not saying this is the way it should be done as it has to suit farming system (if you are like me you probably had livestock on field until day before ploughing), I am just trying to highlight a way in which dursban or seed treatment could have been avoided.

    Personally I am a big believer in integrated crop management, and therefore feel that insecticides if correctly justified are as important as any other cropping tool.
    Last edited by stu b; 17-04-13 at 10:38 AM. Reason: Spelling

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    I think the truth is that with large parts of the US turning to desert, we don't really know if 'chemical' farming can feed the world either. I think a far deeper understanding is required of the way we affect the soil. I don't have a good enough understanding of arable but I would have thought that there may be scope to take a more holistic approach, combined with the best in modern technologies.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by stu b View Post
    That is a common occurrence Neil.
    But, you could have avoided the problem by burning off the grass 2 or 3 months before you drilled the barley and so destroyed the green bridge between the crops.
    I am not saying this is the way it should be done as it has to suit farming system (if you are like me you probably had livestock on field until day before ploughing), I am just trying to highlight a way in which dursban or seed treatment could have been avoided.

    Personally I am a big believer in integrated crop management, and therefore feel that insecticides if correctly justified are as important as any other cropping tool.
    Didn't have many options, only moved into the farm on March 25th, with access for contractor work ground from a couple of weeks before.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    The OP uses pesticides when it suits him. He worms his 'organic' sheep. He should work holistically with the worms to allow them to thrive in harmony with their hosts. Surely?
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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    I hate using insecticides but sometimes there isnt a choice if you want a half decent crop

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowabunga View Post
    The OP uses pesticides when it suits him. He worms his 'organic' sheep. He should work holistically with the worms to allow them to thrive in harmony with their hosts. Surely?
    My main business is producing lambs for sale, not trying to boost the number of parasitic stomach worms, so I organise things accordingly. Rotational paddock grazing,annual alternation of sheep/ cattle and crop areas on the farm, including some chicory in the grass mix etc. Despite these strategies I do use wormers as and when necessary if the egg levels and stock condition demand it.
    The point is that I no longer dose on a routine basis,use far less than I did years ago and produce a higher value product. Hence my question about the routine applications of pesticides on crops or the practice of dressing seeds with insecticides without any clear indication of a threat of infestation. Yes, IPM is the way to go,with the emphasis on avoidance systems rather than automatic blanket treatments, whether you're Organic or not.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    I am not organic but as far as non-herbicide pesticide is concerned I can only think of worming my heifers, who need it during their first summer on grass, and the occasional liver fluke treatment as needed as being my total pesticide use over the last five years. I would have no hesitation in using more if it was needed but certainly can't afford throwing this stuff around willy-nilly with no proven benefit.

    For the first time in four years I will apply a herbicide to some grass in the next few weeks to kill some severe dock infestation.
    If planting cereals after grass I would certainly use dressed seed as has been commonplace for nearly a century now. The result of not doing so is a failed crop. Been there and done that. Using it hardly kills anything off to the point that it has been permanently eliminated so that no further treatment is ever needed. That you do use pesticides when it suits you, as you have admitted, but castigate others for using it as they see fit, smacks of hypocrisy. Even if you used no modern technology whatsoever, it would not make your argument either logical or correct.

    You keep on doing what you are doing and be happy with your little niche. The rest of us will farm commercially to provide affordable food to the great mass of human population.
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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    It was more or less wiped out by wireworms

    There is something out there to eat everything, I am not arable but can see that even in (what used to be before we gave up) veg garden. It is no longer possible to spray, or whatever, on a certain date "just because we've always done it that way." The weather is a screwed-up unpredictable sh*tty mess, every day of every year now.

    So IMO no one would break out the sprayer because the calendar says so. The calendar says we should have grass now, big joke. You could plan to sow on a certain date to miss a hatch e.g. carrot fly, then the weather slaps you and your plans.

    Until agricultural scientists and engineers come up with a way to plant, cultivate and harvest a multi-crop field . . . that is the only way to achieve your happy balance.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowabunga View Post
    I am not organic but as far as non-herbicide pesticide is concerned I can only think of worming my heifers, who need it during their first summer on grass, and the occasional liver fluke treatment as needed as being my total pesticide use over the last five years. I would have no hesitation in using more if it was needed but certainly can't afford throwing this stuff around willy-nilly with no proven benefit.

    For the first time in four years I will apply a herbicide to some grass in the next few weeks to kill some severe dock infestation.
    If planting cereals after grass I would certainly use dressed seed as has been commonplace for nearly a century now. The result of not doing so is a failed crop. Been there and done that. Using it hardly kills anything off to the point that it has been permanently eliminated so that no further treatment is ever needed. That you do use pesticides when it suits you, as you have admitted, but castigate others for using it as they see fit, smacks of hypocrisy. Even if you used no modern technology whatsoever, it would not make your argument either logical or correct.

    You keep on doing what you are doing and be happy with your little niche. The rest of us will farm commercially to provide affordable food to the great mass of human population.
    You mean your providing cheap food for the supermarkets to make it less affordable and just to let you into a little secret, you can only eat it once. So in reality your only feeding one person!

    As for cereals after grass, you need to provide a break, so put in a green manure like mustard to help prevent wireworm. I've never had a problem with wireworm after ploughing grass?

    As for your "I'm nearly organic, but I'm not" comment, do you not indulge in extended antibiotic withdrawal periods? Have lower stocking densities than required by fam assurance? Use no artificial fertilizers? Rouninely use medicines "just in case" such as 7 in 1 vaccines, even if you've never seen a case of x on your farm in 40 years previous? Use 4 th generation antibiotics rouninely used in human treatment to prevent resitance to them?
    Just because you can tick one two or three boxes for being organic, doesn't mean you can forget the others!

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    The pythreum plant discovered growing in the wild was first large scale insecticide and remains the base today for insecticides be that any of the a to z pyrethroids on the market. Sure we made in the middle of this time some horrific ones which we invented and subsequently banned, quite rightly.
    We now can use much more targeted ones such a Gaucho which as a seed treatment is specific. WE as humans also had the awfull explosion in Bhopal India making a really nasty insecticide. Which other than our wish for perfection is no longer needed.
    Yesterday the Fertiliser factory in USA blew up, so maybe the OP's wishes are going to be self fulfilling.But do not forget how many acres of wheat resistant to Orange blossom midge are grown. Or how many acres of Corn borer resistant maize. Or acres of Colorado beetle resistant potatoes.
    Though with respect to the OP I can not imagine that any of this would be a first choice solution. For me it is. And find mashed spud better to eat than Dursban.
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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid View Post
    You mean your providing cheap food for the supermarkets to make it less affordable and just to let you into a little secret, you can only eat it once. So in reality your only feeding one person!

    As for cereals after grass, you need to provide a break, so put in a green manure like mustard to help prevent wireworm. I've never had a problem with wireworm after ploughing grass?

    As for your "I'm nearly organic, but I'm not" comment, do you not indulge in extended antibiotic withdrawal periods? Have lower stocking densities than required by fam assurance? Use no artificial fertilizers? Rouninely use medicines "just in case" such as 7 in 1 vaccines, even if you've never seen a case of x on your farm in 40 years previous? Use 4 th generation antibiotics rouninely used in human treatment to prevent resitance to them?
    Just because you can tick one two or three boxes for being organic, doesn't mean you can forget the others!

    I'm NOT organic I said and I am very happy for you to be organic even if you pick and choose which bits of organic is acceptable to you and which you choose to ignore for pragmatic reasons. You mind your own business and I'll mind mine. Jog on.
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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Lot of Organic Farms around here have ALL converted back to Conventional Chemical Farming?

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowabunga View Post
    I'm NOT organic I said and I am very happy for you to be organic even if you pick and choose which bits of organic is acceptable to you and which you choose to ignore for pragmatic reasons. You mind your own business and I'll mind mine. Jog on.
    Sooner jog on the be a big flapper!

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by RGT View Post
    Lot of Organic Farms around here have ALL converted back to Conventional Chemical Farming?
    Thats the subsidy grabbers gone, so will look forward to even bigger premiums yippee!!!!

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid View Post
    Thats the subsidy grabbers gone, so will look forward to even bigger premiums yippee!!!!
    From where?
    Most stuff in shops around here organic or otherwise simular price.
    If not competitive enough they don't sell much?

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by RGT View Post
    From where?
    Most stuff in shops around here organic or otherwise simular price.
    If not competitive enough they don't sell much?
    Maybe someone in the middle is taking a large cut? mmmmm I wonder

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Stop being such a tiresome Troll, there's a good chap and grow up whatever your true age.
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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    The organic premium certainly seems to be dropping on food but not on feed. Which I can see is becoming a serious problem for organic farmers, especially in poultry / pigs.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    I think you started with the insults when you told me to "jog on" Then you continued with the "troll" and "act my age". Does that mean your can't say anything against my points ? Sad.

    Pesticides are safe just like nitrogenwas till the plant blew up in America, just like smoking was and asbestos and car fumes and lead paint!

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid View Post
    I think you started with the insults when you told me to "jog on" Then you continued with the "troll" and "act my age". Does that mean your can't say anything against my points ? Sad.

    Pesticides are safe just like nitrogenwas till the plant blew up in America, just like smoking was and asbestos and car fumes and lead paint!
    Lets hope you don't put diesel or antifreeze in your tractor. Hope your don't use bleach in your toilet and parlour. Hope you don't drink alcohol.

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by WillyScale View Post
    Lets hope you don't put diesel or antifreeze in your tractor. Hope your don't use bleach in your toilet and parlour. Hope you don't drink alcohol.
    nope you've lost me ?

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid View Post
    nope you've lost me ?
    My point is that you come into contact with toxicities every day. Spilling a bit of strimmer petrol is potentially carcinogenic. Running a tractor in the shed could give you lung trouble. Bleach kills lots of good things as well as "bad things". Alcohol is almost always bad for the liver. Pesticides are one of a range of things that can have a positive or negative effect depending how they are used. As ever the toxicity is the dose and this is often lost on people. So everything can be safe or unsafe depending how and how much are applied.

    I think its not sensible to emote over and fetishize agricultural chemicals as if they are "bad". They are what they are. Cars kill badger, pyrethoid kills insects - do we ban cars?

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    Re: Are pesticides a good idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by WillyScale View Post

    I think its not sensible to emote over and fetishize agricultural chemicals as if they are "bad". They are what they are. Cars kill badger, pyrethoid kills insects - do we ban cars?
    I would say that if we carry on using systemic,broad-spectrum ,residual pesticides on millions of acres of OSR,maize, wheat,beans,sunflower,cotton,almonds,etc. throughout the world, we will kill off whole swathes of insects good and 'bad'.
    This will have severe repercussions: reduction of pollinators(quite important), nothing to break down dung in the field, fewer worms etc. to sort out our soil. Reduced insects means fewer birds, less biodiversity in general. We bugger up our ecosystem at our peril.
    We may be pretty clever, but maybe not clever enough to quickly substitute for a web that has been millions of years in the making.
    The global companies pushing these products and systems have only their share holders to satisfy. I don't trust such a limited perspective. They don't have an acceptable long-term alternative to working alongside the established natural world.
    Do you really trust them to replace bees,worms,birds,ladybirds,dung beetles?
    Last edited by jaliptrot; 19-04-13 at 03:20 AM.

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