Arable businesses 'unsustainable' if pest pressure goes uncontrolled

Oilseed rape seedling flea beetle damage_24663

The ability to control cabbage stem flea beetle is essential for farmers in hotspot areas, says the NFU as it confirms it has applied for emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

The Expert Committee on Pesticides will discuss the NFU’s application as it meets today (May 4). 

The NFU’s application is for a limited proportion of the oilseed rape crop in England and is specifically targeted to the fields at greatest risk from the pest.

The types of neonicotinoids applied for are thiamethoxam (Cruiser OSR) and clothianidin (Modesto). The scientific basis for this application has been heavily supported by a report from AHDB.

Cabbage stem flea beetle_27547

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “We know farmers facing pest pressure are in grave need of access to an effective way of preventing CSFB from destroying valuable oilseed rape crops. This is why the NFU has put in this application for the targeted emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

“CSFB numbers have seen a dramatic increase since restrictions were imposed on the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments by the European Commission according to research published by Fera.

“The CSFB threat cannot be effectively addressed by any other means of pest control. Without access to these insecticides, farm businesses are unsustainable; farmers must be able to produce healthy and profitable crops.

“The damage caused by CSFB has contributed to a reduced area planted with oilseed rape in England which is estimated to be up to 14 per cent down in the 2015-16 season. The neonicotinoid seed treatments are effective in reducing the damage caused by the pest CSFB and prevents the destruction of a crop which is economically and environmentally important for farmers.

“With emergency use of neonicotinoids granted in eight countries across the EU in 2015, we are conscious that British farmers will be operating at a disadvantage without access to this important insecticide.

“As the resilience of food production becomes more important than ever it is vital that regulation of plant protection products is based on sound science and evidence. The decreasing availability of these products is hampering British farmers’ ability to produce the wholesome and affordable British food that shoppers in this country expect.”

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  • Posted by: Andrew MarshallPosted on: 04/05/2016 22:27:52

    Comment: Without a return to neonicotioids this will be the last year I attempt to grow oilseed rape as I consider repeat doses of pyrethroid sprays a vandals approach to the environment.
  • Posted by: Tim WebsterPosted on: 04/05/2016 23:37:04

    Comment: This is the last year I am growing OSR, we have grown it now for 25 years with success.
    This year cabbage stem fea beetle desimated our crop. Seven fields, total 140 Acres, reduced by HALF... Insecticide treatments in the autumn made no difference. Slugs following rape was our biggest problem, now this neonicatanoid ban is the last thing.
  • Posted by: Nic BlinstonPosted on: 06/07/2016 21:08:47

    Comment: The article says that CSFB has contributed to a reduction in planting. Does this mean farmers are (sensibly) choosing to plant less of something susceptible to damage, rather than that the pest is damaging crops they have planted? So they could plant something else instead, which would not be targeted by CSFB and not need neonicotinoids, and possibly be more profitable?

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