New production method bridges gap between conventional and organic cultivation

Recently the European project LIFE+ Zero Residues has started. This project aims to improve the quality and sustainability of stone fruit production. This is a unique chain-wide approach that will address a number of key themes including residues and waste.

Residues of pesticides and food waste are important issues for the fruit and vegetables sector. And consumer demand for residue free products is increasing. While zero residue methods are widely available for vegetables, this is not the case for stone fruit (cherries, plums, nectarines) due to their vulnerability. At this moment, residue-free stone fruit is only grown in organic cultivation. But the scale is limited and the price difference with regular cultivation large.

Smart plant protection
Within the LIFE+ Zero Residues project solutions are developed to ensure that no residue remains in the environment and on the product. An example of this is a pesticide that breaks itself down. The development of a Zero Residue method is however only one part of the project. The project also focuses on improving the level of sustainability chain-wide, from production until the final product. It is the first time in this sector that the entire chain integrally addresses the problems of residues and waste.

Project partners
The project members come from the Netherlands and Spain and represent the chain; pesticide manufacturers, growers, processors and research institutions. TOP bv from The Netherlands will investigate the required conditions of storage, transport and packaging in order to maintain the quality of the fruit after harvesting.

This project leads to a new chain approach next to the current organic and conventional cultivation. Growers who use these solutions can sell their products with a Zero Residue certificate and have a stronger competitive position with regards to sustainability, quality and price.