There seems to have been no end of bad news for the crop protection sector over recent years as several key actives have been lost to tightening regulations, with many others facing an uncertain future.
The ongoing battle to save glyphosate and neonicotinoids are just two examples dominating recent headlines and it is vital we continue fighting to save what we have to avoid putting undue pressure on remaining chemistry.
Almost two thirds of active ingredients have been lost since the 1990’s and the NFU’s Healthy Harvest report predicts a quarter of those remaining are under threat from various policies, such as the European pesticides approval process and Water Framework Directive.
At the same time, the number of new actives brought to market has slowed as manufacturers tackle tougher regulatory hurdles. It costs around 250m euros and takes 10-12 years to bring a new active to market, so there is no quick solution.
It is not all bad news though. Manufacturers are still investing huge sums in R&D, with several notable examples of new actives being launched in the UK recently.
It is also encouraging to hear of other developments in the pipeline, which will bring new modes of action to the crop protection armoury in the near future. This is crucial to tackling resistance development, as well as mitigating the loss of actives through regulation.
With experts predicting global population will grow from 7.5 to 9bn by 2050 and the amount of arable land to fall from 0.21ha to 0.16ha per capita over the same period, we need every one of these tools to drive productivity forward from a shrinking land resource.
Chemicals are just one part of the toolbox though, as integrated management becomes more important. Great progress is being made in varietal resistance, pest/weed and disease detection, and mechanical controls, which together with other cultural practices will hopefully prolong the future for our vital chemical options.
Crop Protection sessions sponsored by Belchim
Chaired by the vocal farmer and NFU vice-president, Guy Smith, Emma Hamer will tackle the crop protection and the novel solutions pipelines – tackling the question we are all interested in: what does the future hold for crop protection in the UK?
- Application specialist, Tom Robinson, will give us a valuable insight into the latest on nozzle section, closed transfer systems and other ways to speed up spraying;
- Francesca Salinari, R&D projects co-ordinator, Agrii will present on how the accurate monitoring and forecasting for pests and disease could benefit decision-making and improve control on field scale crops.