Ole Christiansen: Farming with his hands tied

Danish farmer Ole Christiansen knows his land, and he knows his crops. And he knows what he needs to do to keep his crops them healthy.

On his farm in Roskilde Ole grows special crops: flower seeds, grass seeds, spinach, wheat, and barley. “With small crops, we need the right pesticides. Otherwise the fungus, disease, bugs and weeds will destroy it all,” he says.

What he finds cruelly ironic is that he knows what he needs to do, but in many cases, he doesn’t have access to the products he needs to keep his crops at their best and to ensure his farm is at its most productive.

Decisions about approval of pesticides -- and therefore their availability -- are being made by lawmakers, who in many cases have never stepped foot on a farm. “The situation on a farm is something that only farmers can appreciate. We take care of our plants, we produce the food. Politicians need to listen to the facts before they make decisions about availability of pesticides.

“Regulations in Denmark make farming very, very difficult. There is a huge pressure on our land. To maintain our food supply, we need to get the most out of every hectare. Pesticides help me do that.”

Recently Ole traveled to Brussels to witness “The Great Pesticides Debate” and take part in activities surrounding the event, including a Facebook LIVE session hosted by the European Crop Protection Association. The Debate, with a polarising topic “Slashing pesticides use will prevent farmers from providing enough safe and affordable food” attracted people in support of conventional as well as those favouring organic farming methods. While participating in the debate Danish MEP Margrete Auken said “Organic is probably more common in Denmark than in other countries…  we have to change the way we consume.”

But Ole maintains “Is it realistic to change consumers’ eating habits on a large scale? I don’t think so. I’m a farmer, working to meet demand for food, and I need all the tools possible to make my crops succeed. And that includes pesticides.”

Combatting pest and disease pressure on a farm is a full-time job. Ole knows what he needs to protect his crops, and he is determined to help ensure that farmers will continue to have access to products that help battle plant enemies – all in the name of maximising crop yields.