As a grower, our ultimate goal is to be able to produce the most fantastically flavoursome fresh fruit possible without the use of pesticide.
In order to achieve these goals we use several different growing techniques, including most importantly IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and growing in a coco peat (or coir) substrate.
IPM (Integrated Pest Management)
What is IPM?
IPM is essentially a scientific method of identification and reduction (if possible eradication) of pests. It is an effective and environmentally sensitive pest control process which is becoming a large and important component of modern sustainable agricultural practice. IPM is a common sense approach to pest control by monitoring the crops, identifying the pests and potential pests, studying their habits and life cycles, and then implementing a number of different measures and developing a strategy to address the problem.
How does IPM apply to Beechworth Berries?
IPM at Beechworth Berries involves a large variety of different pest and disease controls as outlined below:
Cultural control - we remove dead and diseased fruits to contain the spread of disease and remove habitat for pests to breed in.
Biological control - we buy predatory insects which do not harm our fruit or environment but prey upon our pest insects.
Biological control - we use a variety of organic fungicides, biostimulants and fertilizers which have organic components such as seaweeds.
Varietal selection - we choose plants which we know will not only thrive in our unique microclimate but will also be resistant to the diseases and pests endemic to our area.
In this manner, we are able to avoid having to use nasty chemicals and pesticides on our crop.
Coir (coco peat)
What is Coir?
Coir refers to the various substances derived from the husks of coconuts. It is a waste by-product of the coconut milk industry but can be processed so that it becomes a medium in which fruit can be grown. It is a brown fibrous material which can be used to replace the role that soil traditionally fulfills in agriculture.
It is an ethically and environmentally positive product as it is produced in poorer countries, generally Sri Lanka and is made from waste material.
Why do we use Coir?
Coir is a better substrate to grow in than soil because of its morphology which allows more air and water to get to the plant's roots. Importantly, it is also to an extent resistant to certain diseases and if it is affected by disease then we are able to get rid of it at the end of the season.
Be warned though, if you're planning to grow in Coir at home that it generally contains fewer nutrients in it than soil so you may have to add them yourself.