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If there’s one thing zero-till farmers aren’t afraid to do, it’s trying something new. That might explain why a new pesticide-free production (PFP) system being explored by a team of Manitoba researchers is attracting so much interest from the province’s no-till farming community.
In fact, veteran zero-tiller Robert Stevenson of Kenton, Manitoba, liked the concept so much that he’s become the founding president of Pesticide Free Farmers Association, a group formed to cooperate with researchers on the project. Four of his colleagues on the fledgling association’s board are also zero-till farmers.
For Stevenson, a zero-till farmer for more than 20 years, the decision to become involved with the project comes down to a question of who’s going to control his farm and who’s going to control agriculture.
“Is it farmers and the consumers or is it going to be the industry in between with their biotech products that force you to use chemical products?” he said in a recent interview.
Stevenson says the pesticide-free production concept addresses key issues facing farmers—especially those farming without tillage. That’s because you must find ways to curtail an ever-increasing reliance on inputs and costs.
“When I think of what was happening on my farm, where pesticide use was going up both in real terms and in dollars, it isn’t sustainable economically,” Stevenson explains.
A group of university, federal and provincial researchers received financing earlier last year from the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council. This is an agency set up to support research…