NFU repeats call for flea beetle control

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The NFU has announced that it has made further applications to the Chemical Regulation Directorate (CRD) for the emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments for the areas under the very highest threat of flea beetle damage for autumn drilling.

The current applications are much narrower than the NFU’s previous applications. The NFU is urging CRD and Defra to make a decision urgently as time-pressures are building.

Guy Smith_119_180NFU Vice-President Guy Smith said: “The CRD’s application process has put us in a position where treatment and distribution of the seed may not make it in time for drilling.

“We realise that the use applied for isn’t as wide as is needed; flea beetle has devastated many crops across the country and we have limited foresight of where the pest will emerge next season. But we hope by making this second round of applications, we can provide relief from the pest for at least some farmers.

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“It should demonstrate in field why neonicotinoid seed dressings are so important when it comes to establishing vigorous crops of oilseed rape.”

NFU crops board chairman Mike Hambly said: “We are very aware of the threat of flea beetle attack on oilseed rape crops being a widespread problem across the country. Neonicotinoid seed dressing has been an effective and targeted way of protecting crops from this.

“Without this treatment, growing one of the most important crops in the UK sustainably is becoming nearly impossible for many farmers and many are using older products which the pest is increasingly resistant to2. We must see a timely response from Defra and CRD so we can move forward with the logistics of seed distribution if approved.”