How are your strawberries grown?
We often get asked how our strawberries are grown –
Are they Organic?
Are they Spray Free?
Do you use Chemicals?
These are all great questions: An explanation of integrated pest management (IPM) techniques we use at Hermes Strawberries.
We believe in order to grow the best strawberries in an environmentally sustainable way “you must be be good to the land and the land will be good to you”. To do this we work hard to keep our soils healthy and productive by intergrating new growing technologies with traditional methods, while adopting a whole farm approach. This ensures that our strawberries are of superior quality while providing protection of our land and surrounding environment.
We are continually looking for and updating our farming techniques, using new technologies and up-to date practices that keep in-line with this philosophy.
For example we look at strawberry varieties and growing techniques to improve crop hardiness and disease resistance, which includes a strong focus on flavour and nutritional components.
At this time, we feel that a complete elimination of all agriculture chemicals is not a realistic goal in the short term. The use of safe, low residual crop protection agents, with precise timing (when the pests are present) reduce the need and use of pesticides.
We monitor our fields daily; this ensures that we stay on top of any potential pest issues. When needing to address a pest issue, we review our options which include;
- Introduction of biologicals to the crop (good bugs to control the populations of bad bugs – ie predator mites)
- Use of organic pesticides (BFA approved sprays)
- Conventional pesticides (regulated by the APVMA)
The decision on how to proceed is based on all collated data available – from our daily crop monitoring, what steps have been utilized and how severe the pest issue is etc.
Our farm adheres to Australian Laws and regulations including WPH&S requirements for the application of agriculture chemicals. We want to protect the health and safety of our family, our staff and our consumers.
We select the best varieties that are;
- resistant to as many diseases, molds and rot as possible
- suitable to our climate and growing conditions
- the best sensory and flavour attributes
Currently we are growing four such varieties, which are best suited to the South East Queensland Region.
To ensure that our soils are kept fertile and healthy, use of chicken manure, green manure (sorghum), microbially active fertilizers (a fusion of biological and conventional) and when needed the addition of chemical fertilizers.
Introduction of biologicals (good bugs)
Predator mites are introduce to all strawberry paddocks, every season – to keep control of the populations of spider mite to acceptable levels. Daily monitoring of populations are carried out, if spider mite populations are not kept to acceptable levels then the options of organic or conventional sprays will be decided according to crop needs.
Other biologicals will be added to crop on a as needed basis
Once we have monitored our fields, we review the data collected and the options that can be used. To keep our crop healthy and productive, control of disease and pest issues must be balanced, sometimes we need to assist Mother Nature in this. We spray if necessary, our goal is to control the problem with the least toxic and most specific chemical available.