Agriculture: when uncertainty grows

agriculture: when uncertainty grows

For a few weeks now, they have been standing, clearly visible, along the roads of the district. The green crosses are to draw attention to the protest of the farmers. To their anger and incomprehension towards the decisions of the federal government. In a four-part series, we present farmers from the region and their specific concerns. Today: simon weckert from dullstadt.

24 years he is. Quite young to already be taking on so much responsibility. 130 hectares the family farm has just outside dullstadt. Potatoes grow the weckerts here especially. Also a little grain and corn. Simon enjoys his job. Even if the youngest developments worry him. "There's already a gap between farmers and consumers," he says. His uncle peter scolds: "and there is a lack of any professional competence in politics."

For the weckerts the decisions of the last weeks and months are not comprehensible and are connected with a rough uncertainty. Example agricultural package: among other things, it states that herbicides and insecticides are to be banned in protected areas as of 2021. Of the 130 hectares that simon weckert farms, 30 are located in a natura 2000 area. "What does that mean for me now?" He asks. And immediately gives the answer: "that sounds like a forced switch to organic farming."

Herbicides, insecticides, fungicides: terms that make environmentalists and most consumers roll their eyes. "Naturally, we apply crop protection products," says simon weckert. Otherwise weeds would sprout in the fields, otherwise pests would multiply, otherwise fungal diseases would have free run in appropriate weather conditions. He uses the agents in a very targeted manner, herbicides, for example, at the beginning of vegetation. "After all, the plants are supposed to grow faster than the weeds," he says. Of course, it can't do what it wants to do. Residue samples are taken again and again, the food inspectors from the district office also come once a year and take potato samples with them. "Food retailers also take samples," emphasized weckert, who supplies his produce to a coarse french fry factory in southern bavaria, for example.

Even if he stops applying pesticides to the 30 hectares of natura 2000 land, he won't get a higher price for the products grown there. The 24-year-old is firmly convinced of this. "It is decided about us, but not with us", his uncle argues.

This also applies to the regulation of water margins. In the future, anyone using pesticides will have to maintain a minimum distance of ten meters from water bodies. If the distance is permanently grassed, even five meters will suffice. Around dullstadt there are a lot of small streams: the castellbach, the schwarzach and a few muhlbachs. The banks of the river are seven to eight kilometers long, estimates simon weckert. "There's quite a bit of flatness missing," he regrets. Especially with the small structures that still exist in many parts of france. If you own a field with a stream running through it, you could lose up to ten percent of your land. He considers the planned compensation to be insufficient and speaks of compulsory expropriation. "The state could also buy the five meters along the flat itself," he suggests. And there at their own expense species protection operate.

The farmer, however, is most affected by the ban on a means of contact that he had used regularly in recent years. The agent will be applied at the end of the vegetation period, i.E. In the summer, in order to achieve maturity. After that, the tubers have to spend a few more weeks in the ground before the shell forms. The alternative to the medium? Weckert shrugs his shoulders. At the moment, he is mechanically jerking away from the potato weed. "But it takes time," he says. He will also have to drive his tractor over the potato field more often. "I need more diesel for this. This can not be good for the environment."

An argument he also uses on the controversial issue of glyphosate. "How else am i supposed to get rid of the catch crops that i grow over the winter??" He asks. Intercrops such as mustard and oilseed rape provide erosion control and prevent nutrients from leaching out of the soil. In cold winters they are dead in the spring. But cold winters were once. So at the end of the winter, weckert will be spreading glyphosate. Once. "And the field is clean."

At present, there is no alternative to the product, which is due to expire in 2023. For peter weckert, there is absolutely no proof that it is carcinogenic. Only one measuring agency has classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic", the "international agency for cancer research. Many other government agencies in europe and america, on the other hand, had classified glyphosate as "non-carcinogenic. He takes a similarly skeptical view of the new regulation on the application of slurry. "Gulle is a valuable source of nutrients," he emphasizes. He does not see a problem for the groundwater in dry mainfranken. In future, farmers will have to apply glyphosate directly to the soil. This is again connected with new investments.

Simon weckert is 24 years old. He wants to continue his profession for many decades to come. "Stopping is not really an option for me," he says. "But it won't get any easier in the future."

Read tomorrow: alois kraus and wilfried distler of the bavarian farmers' association warn of structural change in agriculture that will hit small farms in particular.


What? Glyphosate is a pesticide active ingredient used to control weeds. The active ingredient is approved at EU level and registered in germany for use in crop protection products.

Like? Glyphosate is absorbed by all green parts of plants. Glyphosate spreads throughout the plant and causes complete withering and death of the plants.

When? The active ingredient is non-selective, which means it works not only in the weeds but also in every crop it hits. Glyphosate cannot therefore be used during the growth of crops, as it will damage or kill them.

Since when? The active ingredient glyphosate has been approved in germany since 1974 in herbicides for weed control.

When not? Glyphosate must not be used to control the harvest date or optimize the threshing process.

Where not? Glyphosate must not be used on paved roads and plats – by the way, this applies to all pesticides and also to home and small gardeners.

Hazard: as part of the risk assessment, over 1.000 studies evaluated on the health effects of glyphosate alone. Based on all available evidence, independent scientists in germany and all EU member states, as well as in many other OECD countries, agree: if glyphosate is used as intended and in the manner intended, there is no doubt that it is safe for human health. This is also confirmed by the additional scientific review carried out by the european chemicals agency (ECHA). ECHA has classified glyphosate as non-carcinogenic.


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