From Seeding to Harvesting
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Use of Certified Seeds and healthy seedlings
The selection of certified seeds is crucial for ensuring Good Agricultural Practices. It is better to look for varieties that are disease resistant. Healthy and robust seedlings must be preferred during transplanting. Farmers should handpick and dispose of seedling with any signs of disease.
Proper Seeding and Planting, according to scientific data
All growers shall have in mind, that each crop has specific seeding and spacing requirements in order to develop properly. Planting seeds or seedlings too close can lead to malformation plants and insufficient aeration of the crop. On the other hand, planting them too distant, could leave extra space for weeds to grow. In this case, farmers are forced to use herbicides, the use of which could be avoided. You can consult your local licensed agronomist for further information and the optimum seeding requirements/planting distances of each crop.
Sustainable Use of Water Resources
- Farmers should focus on learning how to wisely use water that is suitable for irrigation.
- Water must be analyzed regularly to prevent contamination.
- If there are animals in the field, keep them at a safe distance from any accessible water source. Animal waste bears a substantial number of pathogens.
- Do not apply chemicals near water sources.
- You can use recyclable urban water only after special permit and always under supervision by local authorized specialists.
- You shall label all-recyclable urban water containers distinctly, so as to prevent anyone from drinking the water.
- In many cases, growers can irrigate their plants either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when temperatures are normally lower. This would prevent extreme water losses from intense evaporation.
- Avoid having uncovered still water sources. Still water is possible to attract animals, insects, and microorganisms that can cause serious diseases to both animals and humans.
- Consider contemporary micro irrigation methods (i.e. sprinklers) that normally make efficient use of water.
- In a given region, each crop has specific water requirements, a portion of which can normally be found from rainfall. You are advised not to over irrigate or irrigate well before a rainfall. Over irrigation will normally lead to various problems of the crops (for instance root rots, fungal diseases etc.). You can consult a local licensed agronomist in order to make a detailed irrigation plan, according to the latest or the 12-month weather forecast.
Proper Use of Fertilizers
In many cases, applying fertilizers wisely does have a significant increase in crop yields. However, uncontrolled and irresponsible use can harm the soil, the plant tissues, and the environment. Some tips:
- Consider performing at least one soil analysis annually at your local authorized organization, so that you can make an informed decision on the types and amounts of fertilizers.
- Before applying any fertilizer, always seek advice from a local licensed agronomist. You may consult your local licensed agronomist so that you can agree on a detailed plan (types of fertilizers, amounts, and timing of application).
- You should always record any fertilizer application in crop history. A common problem is that farmers often forget what kind of fertilizers they applied even a couple of months before.
- In many cases, it is wise to perform at least one plant leaf analysis at your local authorized organization. Leaf analysis (especially in arboriculture) will help you understand the specific nutrient requirements of your plants.
- All the fertilizers you are planning to use shall be registered and permitted in your country.
- Read carefully the label instructions before any fertilizer use.
- Try to avoid mixing two or more types of fertilizers, without a licensed agronomist supervision.
- Growers shall store all fertilizers in a safe distance from water sources such as lakes water tanks, rivers, etc.
- Fertilizers should be secured, locked and with proper ventilation.
- The storage must be located away from animals and children.
- Farmers shall be very cautious before applying organic fertilizers (manure). They have to keep manure in a separate location from animal feed. Raw manure needs to be at a considerable distance from the production areas.
- All the equipment, gear and tools that come in direct contact with raw manure have to be properly cleaned before entering the production areas. Workers handling raw manure or compost shall take care of their personal hygiene, wear appropriate clothing, footwear and gloves before getting in contact with the production areas or with post-harvesting procedures.
Proper Use of Crop Protection Products
Ensuring proper use of crop protection chemicals is critical for complying with Good Agricultural Practice. Some tips:
- You shall first prefer physical measures, for instance, immediate handpicking and removing all diseased plants to prevent the spreading of disease.
- You must always carefully read the label instructions or ask a licensed agronomist for advice.
- All the chemicals used, should be registered and permitted in your country.
- Never apply or mix any kind of crop protection products without the supervision of a licensed agronomist.
- Avoid spraying chemicals during windy or rainy days to prevent dispersal and leakage.
- In case hives are placed in close distance from the farm, be careful not to use pesticides harmful to bees. In any case, inform the beekeeper before any action. In case your crop attracts bees, you can only spray at specific hours, most often during the night (consult your local licensed agronomist and the local Beekeeping Association).
- It is crucial not to harvest before the necessary time window indicated on every label, to avoid serious poisoning.
- Ensure you have available all the special equipment. This includes gloves, mask, jumpsuit, hat, boots, sprayer and others. No body part is supposed to be exposed to chemicals.
- You should carefully clean all the equipment with soap and water after use.
- Keep chemicals and applying equipment locked in special rooms with proper temperature and aeration, according to your local regulations.
- Do not lend sprayers to other farmers. Remaining residues of previous pesticides may react with the molecules of the current crop protection product, with devastating consequences for our crop.
- Keep children in a safe distance away from any sprayed area.
- Keep animals in a safe distance away from any sprayed area.
- Use visible and distinct labeling on the field regarding the application of the chemicals, so as to prevent anyone from touching or eating anything.
- Keep all crop protection products stored in their original packaging. It is very common for farmers to be unsure of what type of chemical is contained in a tank.
- Empty packages shall be washed with soap, stored in sealed bags and delivered to the closest bin right after use.
Sustainable Use of Energy Resources
In many commercial establishments (for instance greenhouses), growers use several sources of energy to achieve a satisfactory crop growth. However, an uncontrolled waste of energy resources can cause a significant increase in production costs. To prevent further damage, there are some techniques recommended.
- Use contemporary energy-efficient lighting equipment.
- If possible, consider using renewable energy sources such as solar panels or geothermal sources.
- Apply lighting and heat according to plant needs. (consult your local licensed agronomist for advice).
- Prefer sunny, not windy areas to build your greenhouses, to minimize the plant’s lighting and heat needs.
Harvesting and GAP
Farmers and workers must be very careful during harvest;
- Workers should wash their hands and tie their hair before collecting products.
- Smoking and drinking are not allowed during the procedure.
- Avoid harvesting immature products.
- Fruits that have fallen on the ground bear a greater risk of contamination.
- Farmers have to store fruits and vegetables in clean containers.
- Growers need to store products in shadowed places, away from animals, chemicals, and fertilizers.
- The equipment (for instance scissors) must be clean and sterilized.
For further explanation and detailed local specifications of GAP, please consult your Local Authority (for instance Ministry of Agriculture)
Good Agricultural Practices – Summary
Understanding the risks of contamination
Crop and Field Selection, Soil Preparation
From Seeding to Harvesting