We’re not the only ones who want to eat our food; we compete with an intimidating list of insect pests, fungi, and bacteria that are looking for a free lunch, and a host of plant species that occupy our fields as weeds.
Crops lose the fight with pests and diseases every day. In fact, the FAO estimates that on average 26% to 40% of crop yields are lost annually due to weeds, pests and disease, going as far to say that if we remove crop protection practices, the losses could double. Double!
Farmers put up a good fight every day to secure a safe and plentiful supply of food.
Consider these facts:
BROCCOLI. Watch out for caterpillars! These critters tend to invite themselves to dinner on broccoli florets. The broccoli family would suffer 40% decrease in yields if farmers didn’t have access to particular crop protection substances.1
CARROTS. These root vegetables grow below ground and, therefore, are particularly susceptible to soil-inhabiting pests such as wireworms and vegetable weevils. In fact, if EU farmers are denied access to certain pesticides, carrot yields are expected to decrease by 92%.2
POTATOES. Potatoes, another root vegetable, also face enemies in the field. One recent study shows that the total global potential loss of potatoes due to pests is 40%.3
ONION. The most well-known threat to the onion is leaf blight, also known as ‘blast’ because it spreads so rapidly. Leaf blight can devastate onion crops and spreads in prolonged wet conditions. Studies have shown that without pesticides, onion yields could be down as much as 50% in the UK.4
1 Steward Redqueen. Cumulative impact of hazard-based legislation on crop protection products in Europe. Final report. 21 July 2016, p.7.
2 Steward Redqueen. Cumulative impact of hazard-based legislation on crop protection products in Europe. Final report. 21 July 2016, p.7.
3 Oerke, E.C. 2006. Crop losses to pests. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 144(1) p.31-43. Cambridge University Press.
4 The Andersons Centre, 2014, Crop Protection Technology: The effect of the Loss of Plant Protection Products on UK Agriculture and Horticulture and the Wider Economy, p.34.