For the third year in a row, Farm Frites and Bayer will once again organize the Tour de Farm in Belgium and the Netherlands. On September 6 and 8, two local farmers will host the event, which will promote technologies for sustainable potato farming – and inspire dialog among stakeholders of the value chain.
At last year’s Tour de Farm, which took place at ambassador farms in Kruisland in the Netherlands and in Amay in Belgium, more than 170 farmers, processors, and suppliers came together to talk about making potato farming more sustainable. “It was great to see visitors exchanging ideas with each other and to present new technologies,” says Joost Rovers of Farm Frites. “We hope that this year even more people will come.”
Ambassador farms serve as venues
On September 6, Tour de Farm 2017 will start at Willy Ronsmans’ 109-hectare farm in Bertem, Belgium. “For farmers in Belgium, point source contamination remains a huge challenge,” says Patricia Smet, Marketing Communication and Excellence Manager at Bayer in Belgium. “That’s why we want to talk with farmers about how they can avoid emissions. Fyteauscan and EasyFlow are two innovative tools we will present that can help them with that.” The organic cleaning system Phytobac , to which Fyteauscan is an add-on, was presented at last year’s Tour de Farm.
Reducing surface water contamination also remains a major challenge in the Netherlands. “Dutch farmers have until 2018 to reduce emissions by 50% and until 2023 to reduce them by 90%,” says Jolanda Wijsmuller, Food Chain Manager at Bayer Netherlands. At the Tour de Farm in Numansdorp, where Jan-Cees van der Maas will host the event on his farm on September 8, Bayer and Farm Frites will also focus on ways to avoid contamination in the surface water. “We’ve been collecting a lot of data on water quality,” says Jolanda. “And the overall awareness among farmers in the Netherlands for sustainable potato growing is definitively increasing.”
Further topics that will be highlighted at Tour de Farm 2017 are using biologicals in potatoes, growing different varieties such as hybrid potatoes and quality seed potatoes (a demo field with these varieties will be on-site), and storing seed potatoes.
Tackling challenges together
For three years now, Bayer and Farm Frites have been working together to support potato growers in the Benelux area. “Together with Bayer, we’ve been working closely with farmers to offer them solutions to the challenges they’re having,” says Joost. As a family business that was founded in 1971, Farm Frites has ample experience when it comes to growing and processing potatoes. “But we can always learn more,” he adds. “And this partnership has allowed us to show farmers how to grow potatoes with fewer active ingredients.” Training farmers on how to get the most out of plant protection products is also an important aspect of this joint project.
“It’s great to have in Farm Frites an important processor in the market as a partner,” says Jolanda. “Their connections to local farmers have definitely been a great advantage.” On ambassador farms in Belgium and the Netherlands, Bayer and Farm Frites have successfully tested the benefits of micro-dams. “We’re constantly improving micro-dam technologies so that even after heavy rains the water stays on the field,” says Patricia. “And we can’t wait to present our innovations at this year’s Tour de Farm.”
Tour de Farm 2017 will take place on September 6 in Bertem, Belgium and on September 8 in Numansdorp, Netherlands.