Tag Archives: crop protection

Next generation of pesticides could be harmful to bees

Hopes for a new family of agricultural insecticides with little impact on non-target species, such as bees, may suffer a setback as researchers claim that they could pose similar risks to pollinating insects.

Sulfoximines have been promoted as the next generation of pest control chemicals, with a number of products already gaining approval around the world in countries including China, Canada and Australia. However, research published in the journal Naturesuggests that they could cause non-lethal effects in bees which may have unintended consequences.

One of the scientists behind the paper, Dr Ellouise Leadbeater of Royal Holloway, University of London, told the BBC: “Our study highlights that stressors that do not directly kill bees can still have damaging effects further down the line, because the health of the colony depends on the health of its workforce.”

Friends of the Earth pesticide campaigner Sandara Bell commented, “This study shows that replacing one harmful pesticide with another is not the solution to protecting our crops.” However, the NFU said that it was vital that farmers and growers had ‘an effective crop protection toolbox available to combat pests and allow them to produce food for the public.’

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post Next generation of pesticides could be harmful to bees appeared first on Hort News on 30 August 2018.

Chance to learn about SCEPTREplus trials on lettuce root aphid

Growers have had the chance to assess the latest set of field trials forming part of AHDB Horticulture’s SCEPTREplus trials, this time looking at the control of lettuce root aphid.

The aim of the trial is to determine the efficacy of novel treatments for the control of the pest on lettuce. According the AHDB, “In recent years lettuce root aphids have been managed effectively by the neonicotinoid seed treatments used to control aphids on the foliage. The impending loss of neonicotinoids will increase the risk of lettuce root aphid infestations.”

The trial, which consists of 12 treatments including the insecticide-free control and the commercial standard of Cruiser seed treatment, was visited by growers on 8 August. The experimental products have been applied as spray, drench or phytodrip treatments across two sequential plantings which have been timed to target the migration of lettuce root aphids from overwintering sites on poplar.

The post Chance to learn about SCEPTREplus trials on lettuce root aphid appeared first on Hort News on 9 August 2018.

Syngenta launches Saltro fungicide seed treatment globally

Global ag. chem. company Syngenta has announced the global launch of a new SDHI-based fungicide seed treatment, with a view to getting the first approvals in international markets next year.

SALTRO™, which contains the novel active ingredient ADEPIDYN™, will initially be marked for the control of blackleg in canola (oilseed rape); Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in soybeans and Bakanae in rice, but following initial planned registrations in the United States, Canada and Australia, use of the chemical could be expanded to other crops and diseases.

Ioana Tudor, Global Head of Syngenta Seedcare, said, “We are excited to be adding SALTRO™ to our broad seed treatment portfolio. It will offer growers even more choices to control early seedling diseases to an unmatched level, by ensuring stand uniformity with strong and healthy plant growth right from the start.”

Photo Credit: Syngenta

The post Syngenta launches Saltro fungicide seed treatment globally appeared first on Hort News on 7 June 2018.

EU court upholds neonicotinoid ban

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has upheld the EU’s almost total ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides after legal action was brought by agrochemical giants Bayer and Syngenta.

The ECJ ruling said the EU had correctly applied its “precautionary principle”, which allows restrictions on chemicals even when conclusive evidence of harm is lacking.

Both Bayer and Syngenta said they were disappointed by the decision, as did the UK’s Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC). AIC said it supported the action brought by Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta as it ‘firmly believes in an approval system that is based on scientific evidence, independent review and an assessment of impacts, rather than politics’.

Hazel Doonan, head of AIC’s crop protection sector added: “Effective modern crop protection products are an essential part of meeting UK Government’s drive to raise productivity whilst enhancing the environment. If innovation is to take place, it relies on those involved in discovering and bringing new technology to the market, to have a clear regulatory framework within which to operate.”

In a separate ruling, the ECJ backed chemicals giant BASF in its complaint against restrictions on fipronil. The court said the European Commission had failed to do an impact assessment on fipronil, and that this “breached the precautionary principle.”

Photo Credit: Public domain pictures

The post EU court upholds neonicotinoid ban appeared first on Hort News on 23 May 2018.

Mechanical weed control shows promise in Canada

Faced with increasing numbers of herbicide-resistant weeds, Canadian farmers on the Prairies are tuning back to mechanical weed control, but rather than hoeing or cultivation, they are looking at clipping weeds to prevent seed formation.

A new project at the University of Saskatchewan is evaluating in-crop weed clipping as a method for weed control, with the objective of developing a strategy to reduce weed seed production: reducing the seed bank in the soil to reduce future infestations.

“The main applications for weed clipping are to lower populations of herbicide-resistant weeds that have escaped herbicide application, and to reduce weed populations in organic systems,” says Lena Syrovy, a research assistant at the Agronomy and Weed Ecology Lab at the University of Saskatchewan. She points out that the weed must be taller than the crop and produce most of its seeds above the crop canopy.

The research team is currently using a CombCut machine from European manufacturer Just Common Sense, but Syrovy added: “I’ve talked to growers who are modifying their swathers to clip weeds above the crop canopy.” Canadian manufacturer Bourgault has also recently launched its BTT weed clipper.

Photo Caption: Combcut machine in operation

Photo Credit: YouTube / Just Common Sense AB

The post Mechanical weed control shows promise in Canada appeared first on Hort News on 26 April 2018.

New EU guidance on potato tuber pest

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Plant Health has categorised the Guatemalan potato tuber moth (Tecia solanivora (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)) as a Union quarantine pest for the EU.

  1. solanivora, which feeds exclusively on Solanum tuberosum, was first described in Costa Rica in 1973 and has spread through Central and northern South America via the trade in seed potatoes. It has also spread to Mexico, the Canary Islands and mainland Spain where it is under official control in Galicia and Asturias.
  2. solanivora is currently regulated by Council Directive 2000/29/EC, listed in Annex II/AI as Scrobipalpopsis solanivora. Larvae feed and develop within potato tubers; infested tubers therefore provide a pathway for pest introduction and spread, as does the soil accompanying potato tubers if it is infested with eggs or pupae.

Defra has published a fact sheet on the Guatemalan potato tuber moth, but EFSA points out that there are uncertainties over the effectiveness of preventing illegal imports via passenger baggage and the magnitude of potential impacts in the cool EU climate.

Photo Credit: Cornell University

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Are dogs the future of pest detection?

Large Canadian greenhouse grower NatureFresh™ Farms has adopted a novel approach to pest management: using a Belgian Shepherd dog named Chili to identify the first signs of infestation.

The move came following an outbreak of Pepper Weevil (Anthonomus eugenii) in the autumn of 2016. Due to the nature of the pest, it cannot be spotted by humans and, once an outbreak is established, no available biological control methods are capable of controlling the pest.

Cam Lyons, Research and Development and IPM Technician comments, “Dogs are a very intelligent animal. Many worker dogs are trained to recognize and discover scents associated with drugs or bombs, so it seemed possible to train a dog to recognize pepper weevil.”

After research, the company adopted 15-month old Chili who underwent 8 weeks of training before being certified by The American Working Dog Association. This certification allows Chili to work in the farm without any food safety concerns. When Chili detects the scent of Pepper Weevil she will sit and stare at the location of the pest.

Peter Quiring, NatureFresh™ Farms Owner and CEO, added, “In order to continue to grow it is essential to develop new strategies and look beyond conventional methods. We encourage our team to think outside the box and test any ideas they may have; no idea is considered too crazy.”

Photo Caption: Cam Lyons, IPM scout and dog handler Tina Heide, and Chili.

Photo Credit: NatureFresh Farms

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Dow and DuPont complete merger

Multinational chemical companies Dow and DuPont have finalised their $130 billion merger, with the new company, DowDuPont trading on the New York Stock Exchange from 1 September.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the storied histories of our two companies,” said Andrew Liveris, executive chairman of DowDuPont. “While our collective heritage and strength are impressive, the true value of this merger lies in the intended creation of three industry powerhouses that will define their markets and drive growth for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The company’s Board has established three Advisory Committees to oversee the establishment of each of the new Agriculture, Materials Science (Dow) and Specialty Products divisions in preparation for separation into separate companies. The proposed agricultural company will combine the activities of DuPont Pioneer, DuPont Crop Protection and Dow AgroSciences. According to DowDuPont, ‘The combined capabilities and highly productive innovation engine will enable the intended Agriculture Company to bring a broader suite of products to the market faster, so it can be an even better partner to growers, delivering innovation and helping them to increase their productivity and profitability.’

Photo Caption: Andrew Liveris is the new CEO of the combined company

Photo Credit: Dow

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New fears over use of sulphur for crop protection

A new study has linked the spraying of elemental sulphur for crop protection with asthma and breathing difficulties.

The chemical, which is widely used of strawberries to control mildew and other fungal diseases, is currently approved for use on organic crops as it is deemed to be a ‘natural’ substance. However, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley who studied children living in the Salinas area of California found a link between lung function, more asthma-related symptoms and higher asthma medication use in children living less than a mile from recent elemental sulphur applications compared to unexposed children.

Co-author of the study, Asa Bradman, associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said, “Sulphur is widely used because it is effective and low in toxicity to people.

“It is naturally present in our food and soil and is part of normal human biochemistry, but breathing in sulphur dust can irritate airways and cause coughing. We need to better understand how people are exposed to sulphur used in agriculture and how to mitigate exposures. Formulations using wettable powders could be a solution.”

 Photo Caption: Researchers studied children living in California’s Salinas Valley.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Adding silicon to soil to strengthen plant defences

Researchers at the University of Delaware and the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University in Australia are examining the addition of silicon to soil to help strengthen plants against potential predators.

By amending the soil with silica, a form of silicon that plants can easily take up, in trials the researchers helped plants build up tiny particles called phytoliths, or ‘plant stones,’ to defend against herbivorous insects and possibly rodents.

“The plant builds up these sorts of stones in its tissues, which will reduce the digestibility of the plant material because digesting stones is not very easy,” said Ivan Hiltpold of the University of Delaware. “Also, these stones wear the mouth parts of insects and possibly rodents. If your teeth are not really cutting any more, then you cannot eat as much as you could. All of that added together will reduce the impact of herbivory on the plant.”

In experiments with sugarcane grown in a greenhouse, the researchers found that high levels of silicon concentrations decreased the growth of root-feeding insects and root consumption, the latter by 71 per cent. Because the silicon doesn’t affect grazing livestock, it also will affect humans when, for example, a person consumes boiled carrots or sweet corn.

The option of using silicon to naturally strengthen a plant’s defences could be both environmentally friendly and economically attractive to growers, as they would not have to spray as much to protect their crops.

Photo Credit: Jeff Chase/ University of Delaware

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