Toxic Nematicides and the effects on ground water.
Nematodes are beautiful small creatures that live in the soil, a bit like the Doozers from Fraggle Rock, the 1980's TV show. The Doozers do all the work, and the soil nematodes are just the same. They are the engine of the soil and create lots of nutrients for our crops as they eat organic content that is turned into nutrients.
When a farmer does not use a long crop rotation in potatoes, carrots, and parsnips the crops get attacked in the soil and bugs live inside the potato. All you need to do is cut around them and the food is fine. I tend to think if the bugs like them they must taste great!
The answer for growing to reduce this problem is to grow roots crops probably once every 10 years on the same ground - which we do. In fact we are still on our first rotation.
I asked the biggest root crop farmer I know about his rotation and he said it is 1 in 4 years and he states that they have a “massive problem with nematodes.”
I have done some maths and the area they grow root crops on is over 4,000 acres. They will need about 100 tonnes a year of a very dangerous toxic Nematicide called Vydate.
‘So what?’ you might say. Well ground water in these areas has a high toxicity rate that is above recommended levels for humans, as the chemical is washed through the soil into the ground water supplies. Would you want to drink the water from those areas?
I have always been against this chemical - which does not make me popular with other farmers.
The problem is exacerbated by supermarkets as they want to buy off as few farmers as they can, so those farmers pressure themselves to grow as much as they can on their own land.
Years ago this was not a big problem as there were thousands and thousands of root crop farms all growing small areas on long rotations.