Water is the most vital resource for life, and its conservation is an essential element of sustainable agriculture. Experts at Bayer have developed an innovative system for farmers that is designed to prevent contamination of surface waters by, for example, crop protection agents. Find out more in the interview with David Lembrich, Stewardship Manager.
Why should farmers use a biological system like Phytobac?
Spills from sprayer filling and washing activities on the farmyard can contribute significantly to water contamination with pesticides. While farmers are filling or cleaning their equipment with crop protection products they might spill pesticide solution. Even nanograms of such products – that is 10-9 grams – can be found in streams a decent distance away. With a closed system like Phytobac, 100 percent of this kind of pollution can be eliminated.
Could you explain how Phytobac works?
It is a closed biological system. First, the water used for rinsing on the filling/washing station that has accumulated the pesticide flows into a mud tank where the rough dirt settles as sediment. The clear residual liquid is stored in a buffer tank and fed into the substrate container filled with farm soil and straw. The straw serves as an additional source of carbon which promotes microbial degradation. Moisture sensors and steering devices regulate the soil moisture levels, creating ideal living conditions for microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. While the water evaporates, the enzymes in these tiny helpers break down residues of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides.
What other benefits do farmers have?
Retailers and processors, especially those who are members of Food Chain Partnership, are also more likely to source from farmers who contribute to sustainable agriculture. And, in the end, they may pay a better price for those products.
And how many Phytobac systems are actually installed?
France is definitely the pioneer here, with 4,100 Phytobac systems. We have achieved a good growing rate in the past decade. In the last year alone, 600 new systems have been installed. Next to the concerted effort of Bayer France, the financial support with subsidies from the French government contributes to this success.
Dr. David Lembrich, Stewardship Manager at Bayer
What about other countries?
In Belgium and the Netherlands, around 100 Phytobacs have been installed in just a few years. In Germany, research institutes have installed the system. Other countries such as USA, Canada and China are highly interested.
So you are just getting started?
Exactly! It takes a while to raise the awareness of farmers with regard to this topic. In those countries where Bayer has installed demonstration Phytobacs, we can observe an increasing interest of the farmers as well as the local authorities.
Where can farmers buy the Phytobac system?
Next to self-built Phytobac installations, the farmer can purchase ready-to-use systems. Bayer as such is not a hardware producer for Phytobac systems but we offer training and technical advice. External partner companies offer completely automatic systems that are extremely user friendly.
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