Lee-Anne and Anthony Yewers at Berry Sweet are longstanding trailblazers in sustainability, so it comes as no surprise that they were the first in the Australia to buy BASF’s new Serifel® Biological Fungicide.
“We want to grow more with less resources. I want to leave my farm in as of a good condition as I got it, especially if my kids are the ones who end up taking over,” explains Anthony.
“I’m excited that chemical companies like BASF are looking at biologicals to help us solve our issues - the more options we have, the better,” he adds.
The Yewer’' own two properties, 20 hectares in Bullbrook, and 20 hectares in Pemberton, where they produce around 1.5 million kilograms of strawberry’s each year.
Over 20 years ago, Berry Sweet were the first Strawberry growers in WA running a serious Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program and have been investing time and resources to trial new ways of sustainable farming ever since.
Anthony and Lee-Anne say that Botrytis is one of their ongoing disease challenges and that there seems to be less and less chemical alternatives available. Berry Sweet have a sustainable approach to growing quality soft fruit, and biologicals have an important strategic fit in their operations.
Serifel achieves disease control with significantly less active ingredient, resulting in minimal spray deposits on the fruit and keeping the berry looking its best. This is also complementary with an IPM program, as it is safer to use around beneficial insects.
“We were first to do IPM in a big way and we have spent a lot of money over this time putting beneficial species in,” said Anthony.
“We have had issues, knocking our Orius predators, and so we have to be very careful with what we use,” he adds.
For the Yewers’ safety is also a priority, which makes Serifel’s no withholding period or maximum residue limit ideal for repeat picking.
“Our kids can go anywhere on the farm and eat whatever they want, and we don’t have to worry about what they eat, it’s also good for our staff and good for the environment,” said Lee-Anne.
And while the Yewers’ are dedicated to the cause, they know it takes a network of support to be on the front-foot to know about new innovations which is where they say that Primaries Midlands have played an important role.
“Simon Radloff has been awesome. We knew Serifel was coming, he was chasing it down and helping us to arrange demonstrations and then get it to us as soon as it was registered,” Anthony adds.