Towards our future in protected cropping
Taking a serious and in-depth look at how an important sector of our industry may develop over a 15 year time horizon has been both interesting and valuable and is just the start of a process for Certis to ensure the long term future of its business in a fast changing world.
The scenarios have helped us to envisage the wider challenges that may impact on the protected cropping sector and to assess the risks and opportunities Certis may need to address to maintain its contribution to a sustainable food system into the future.
Among the important strategic options and priorities identified were:
- The development of a new generation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to meet future cropping needs
- The minimisation of post-harvest losses
New generation IPM
As part of our core business we are constantly developing new crop protection solutions using IPM and incorporating biological, soft and conventional pesticides. For example, our team in Spain works with growers to increase security and produce vegetables and fruits with no, or lowest possible, pesticide residue levels using IPM programmes and biological controls as well as seeking the protection of the environment with low water and fertiliser consumption.
They have seen success in producing residue-free crops on a sustainable basis, thereby meeting the strictest requirements of European retailers. Options for the future include the extension of IPM into different crops which may increasingly be produced in protected conditions; the development of specialist application technology; the development of new bio pesticides with improved formulation; new bio-control for seeds and for substrates.
To further some of these developments we may need to consider partnerships with others offering appropriate expertise and complementary technologies to help strengthen our position and to ensure the quality of the end product through involvement in such areas as residue measurement and management, packaging or monitoring systems to justify treatment.
In a world of population growth where resources are limited it will become increasingly important not to waste food that has been produced. Post-harvest treatments to preserve produce and manage and improve shelf life will therefore be highly valued and soft technology options using bio-control products, in response to consumer demand for safe and residue-free produce, could be an area for specific development.
Certis is already active in the area of potato storage and has a package of solutions including sprout suppressants. We are working towards the addition of a new generation product based on a naturally occurring compound that will leave no residues in either the potatoes or the stores, will improve shelf life whilst reducing energy requirements for storage and increasing supply chain efficiency.
Long term planning
Some of the developments mentioned above may be achieved through acquisition or partnerships but the process of developing and registering new products certainly takes a long time and the investment required is significant so there has to be a certain level of confidence and justification for the venture. This project has delivered a robust process that offers a sound basis for long term planning and the commitment needed for the success of a long term project.
The results of our work with Forum for the Future will enable Certis to open a dialogue with key stakeholders in the protected cropping sector, sharing and testing the scenarios we have created, as part of an exploration of their views of the future. From that dialogue we hope to develop our long term strategy for the sector and start to identify the products and services we need to be evolving as well as potential partners.
Certis is committed to its future as a major contributor to the sustainable production and supply of food and must therefore prepare its offering to the industry in a changing world.