|Author: ||R. Ausher|
|Keywords: ||methyl bromide, methyl bromide alternatives, compliance with Montreal Protocol, pepper, strawberry, tomato, extension-research-growers collaboration|
Israel’s intensive in- and outdoor agricultural production relied for over 40 years on high MB consumption that made up for its scarcity of land.
Peak consumption reached 4900 tons in 1994. The MB substitution time frame to which article 2 countries have subscribed in the framework of the Montreal Protocol created a sense of urgency in the years 2000 and 2001 when compliance with the protocol brought about a 65% drop in MB availability.
In order to steer a smooth but rapid transition to MB alternatives, Extension Service developed a crash program to provide the MB consuming branches with substitutes and guidelines for their application.
The Model Farm scheme, developed by the Department of Crop Protection was adopted by the Extension Service as a system wide priority, ensuring that crop husbandry and crop protection extension specialists play a major role in its field implementation together with research.
The program was formulated in the framework of the MB Substitution Steering Committee and it consisted of the accelerated on-farm testing of non-chemical and registered chemical MB alternatives.
The plots were large, with few replicates and compared to the MB standard.
A few untreated checks were set up in the model farms.
A total of 59 model farms were established between the 2000 and 2001 growing seasons encompassing the 15 major crops of the three production branches.
The experimental design of each model farm was approved by the Steering Committee’s Technical Team.
Ministry of Agriculture covered 60% of the costs while Vegetables, and Flowers Growers’ State Associations, respectively, shared 40% of the costs.
Model Farms exposed MB alternatives to four main factors: crops; soil types and soil-less culture in various regions; various pathogens, insect pests and weed populations; mixtures, sequences and reduced rates of various MB alternatives.
At the end of the scheme’s first season, a first package of recommendations for MB alternatives was published to the growers.
The phase-out of MB brings about the unfortunate revival of environmentally hostile carbamates and organo-phosphate alternatives.
On the other hand, wide arrays of environmentally friendly technologies are intensively promoted.
The phase out project encompassed a large group of crops, still certain crops such as minor crops, outdoor flower crops, vegetables grown for seed and fruit tree nurseries received second priority.
From almost 5000 t, in 1994, consumption was reduced to 1790 t by the year 2001 and 1074 t by 2003 while growers are fully informed of all available MB alternatives.
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