General comments about the show
- The 2016 CropTec show was our third year as title sponsor and once again the event was typified by a sense of cautious optimism set against a background of political uncertainty.
- The event focused on providing visitors with the latest, cutting edge technical knowledge and agronomic advice relating to all aspects of arable and root cropping, and it was heartening to see so many enthusiastic visitors contributing to a really vibrant two days.
- As an industry, we are facing continuing uncertainty following June’s Brexit vote, with the UK’s impending withdrawal from the EU regularly coming up in conversation.
- The agricultural workforce comprises only 1.2% of the UK’s working population, with the arable sector estimated to contribute just a third to agricultural GDP: the government therefore has weightier, vote-winning priorities to consider.
- We, as an industry, must make a co-ordinated and determined effort to lobby policymakers to ensure a new “British Agricultural Policy” is tailored to effectively address our industry’s needs and requirements.
- Cropping yields – or rather a lack of yield due to reduced solar radiation in June – was also a hot topic of conversation with a useful series of seminars enabling visitors to share experience and advice learned from this year’s harvest.
- The over-riding crop protection message was the need for a consolidated effort for agronomists and growers to consider the threat of fewer crop protection actives.
- The short-term future for new chemistries and novel modes of action looks relatively sparse thanks largely to the raising of regulatory hurdles and the need for companies to carefully manage global research and development budgets.
- With a shortage of new products coming through, and existing chemistries always at risk from regulatory restrictions, farmers and agronomists must ensure they formulate treatment programmes which do not place undue pressure on those actives which are already “at risk”.
- Spray programmes must be designed to prevent an increase in the number and rate of reported resistance incidences: ALS and azole resistance are already hampering the efficacy of a number of key actives, and, unless we act now, these chemistries are likely to become ineffective in a relatively short time.
- It is essential to use the whole crop protection toolkit including strong multi-site solutions such as folpet to give added protection to super-curative products.
- We must also be very aware of the implications that ongoing cases of water pollution will have on future crop protection armouries. Put simply, if we continue to act irresponsibly, or if we continue to push these matters to the back of our minds, tomorrow’s farmers will be left with a very limited number of crop protection options. Thankfully the industry already shares a number of important stewardship programmes (including Metaldehyde Matters and Get Pelletwise as well as Adama’s Water Aware initiative) which are already helping growers to mitigate risk. It is also why we are working hard behind the scenes to create novel formulations which will make existing actives more efficacious for longer.
- But the future of crop protection isn’t just about a reliance on chemistry. As resistance levels rise, and legislative pressures increase, the future of crop protection will shift, and is already shifting, towards an integrated management approach, with spring cropping, rotation and cultivation techniques all playing an equally important role.