The European sustainability standard MPS is a point system based on greenhouse production. D.S. Cole Growers is participating in the environmental part of MPS, which looks mostly at inputs—electricity, fertilizer and crop protection products use. Doug Cole shared some of the inner workings of MPS at a GIE Media roundtable on sustainability at Short Course.
MPS divides chemicals into lists, a red list for fertilizers that those in the program shouldn’t use (the only one on the list that growers might use is methyl bromide, Cole says), a yellow list for those that are acceptable and a green list for those that are approved for use. These lists are based on 10 parameters, including their influence on wildlife and the active ingredients. From this list, growers decide what to use and when, gaining or losing points based on their choices.
"It could be that switching to a 15/0/15 fertilizer because getting rid of phosphorous helps," Cole says. "There are tradeoffs, but you have a little more leeway. So much of it is common sense. We should be cutting back on this stuff anyway."
Of MPS indexed growers in Europe, 23 percent have seen a reduction of crop protection products used, 18 percent energy use reduction and 25 percent fertilizer use reduction, as well as a 20 percent increase in production.
Cole says that the MPS process has pointed out that the operation’s biggest problem is using too much fertilizer, and is now looking at plumbing and irrigation.
"It gives us a clue where we can save some money," Cole says.