Farm neighbours are more opposed to chemical pesticides than farmers themselves in peri-urban agricultural areas, and this difference is more pronounced in the Mälardalen region than in the Scania region. At the same time, the neighbours are as often using pesticides in their home gardens as farmers do on their farms. This is shown by Ahmed Nur in a dissertation from SLU. He also shows that insect control in canola can reduce the amount of pests in home gardens nearby.
In society, there is widespread concern over the use of chemical pesticides, a concern that is influenced by social, ethical and political factors. For farmers in the outskirts of cities and towns there is a particularly high risk that chemical control of weeds and pests will lead to tensions in the relation to neighbourhood residents.
Nur Ahmed has in his doctoral work conducted a large survey study that shows how attitudes to chemical pesticides differ between farmers and their neighbours in urban farming communities in southern Sweden and in Mälardalen, and between different categories of farmers.
More acceptance in Scania
Answers of questionnaires show that the neighbours have a much more negative view on the use of pesticides than farmers have. It also turned out that the attitudes are more negative in the Mälardalen region than in Scania. Approximately 65 percent of the neighbours in Mälardalen felt that chemical control is somewhat bad or very bad, while only 14 percent of farmers in Scania had that view. For neighbours in Scania and farmers in Mälardalen, the corresponding values were 33 and 28 percent respectively. At the same time, the survey shows that chemical control on its own site (garden, lawn, etc.) were quite common among both neighbours and farmers.
Less damage in garden plots
By using field experiments with insect control in a crop, it was also shown that this can reduce the amount of pests in home gardens in the area. There was significantly greater infestation of fleas soil and pollen beetles in the gardens when rape was unsprayed than when it was sprayed. The attacks covered radishes, ornamental plants and wild flowers. The decrease in attacks was not due to pesticides drifted into the gardens, there were simply just smaller amounts of harmful organisms in the area.
Nur Ahmed emphasizes that it is difficult to predict the effect of chemical insecticides in agricultural crops on the vegetation in gardens, because there are many factors to consider. He hopes that his studies can contribute to a deeper understanding of conflict issues in urban agricultural areas.
For more information contact Nur Ahmed, +46 40-41 52 73, +46 73-735 52 92, Nur.Ahmed @ slu.se