Mike Copland now uses the facilities for his work on biological pest control and also for trials of new generation pesticides. He showed us the range of parasitic and predatory “good bugs” that he produces to attack insect pests in glasshouses. There were interesting questions about the recent banning of certain insecticides (neonicotinoids), because these seem to affect the behaviour of bees and other beneficial insects. Wye Bugs links closely with the larger commercial outfit Biological Crop Protection based along Occupation Road. Together they provide internationally recognised expertise in biological control.
Sarah and Martin Mackey then showed us the Ripple Farm fields spreading up towards the Crown. Ripple Farm produce a wide range of vegetables and the kale and chard are proving very popular with customers at Stoke Newington Market as well as around Wye. Pest and bird control are ongoing problems for organic farming and Martin explained how various types of horticultural fleece enable brassicas in particular to become well established, protected from
flea beetle and pigeons. Martin checked out his early potato crop for us and the good news was that the spuds were ready for picking so we had some free samples.
We spent almost two hours looking at various aspects of veg production and crop protection. I think the questions would have kept us out for longer but it was getting unseasonally cold -what a surprise! A lasting impression was that all of the veg growing activities from allotment plots to raising small predatory mites and organic farming require a lot of hard work and attention to detail. The
enthusiasm for crop production that remains in Wye shone through.