The Nematicide Stewardship Programme (NSP) has been recognised with an environmental award at the first ever National Potato Industry Awards, held in Harrogate.
Speaking after the event Patrick Mitton, chair of the group, said there has been considerable commitment to the programme by the industry to date and it is fantastic to have this recognised.
“I was very pleased to accept this award on behalf of the NSP,” said Patrick. “For many years the group has been working to ensure granular nematicides are used correctly and retained for future seasons, and this award recognises the hard work that everyone has put into achieving this.”
Speaking earlier in the day at BP 2019, a panel of key industry players echoed this sentiment by discussing the importance of nematicide stewardship.
Jon Pickup, Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), kicked off by reiterating the importance of nematicides to the industry.
“Nematicides are a vital tool in any integrated programme to enable growers to achieve acceptable potato yields and quality.
“Nematode levels are getting worse, especially in Scotland, so it’s vital that we retain as many tools as possible to be able to tackle this damaging pest,” said Jon.
Mark Taylor, from the FPSA (Fresh Potato Suppliers Association) explained the NSP provides critical due diligence for the industry to operate.
“It’s our way of continually demonstrating that we’re taking active measures to show industry stakeholders and consumers that we’re committed to stewardship.
“Ultimately the goal is to see that every grower who uses nematicides is following the NSP protocol,” said Mark.
Timothy Rooke, farmer and vice chair of the NFU potato forum, in response to this remarked that it is refreshing to see the industry is finally fighting on front foot to protect the remaining actives.
Simon Alexander, agronomist representing Red Tractor, supported by saying the inclusion of the NSP protocol within the audited Red Tractor Standard has put some solid foundations behind the programme.
“The inclusion within the Standard will inevitably drive the industry to ensure compliance with nematicide best practice,” he said.
Patrick concluded by explaining that although there has been some great work done to date by so many players in the potato supply chain, including farm operators, it is now time to look to the future and move the programme forward.
“It’s important that the industry continues to demonstrate the good work it’s doing to ensure nematicides are retained for future seasons,” said Patrick.
The NSP Protocol is now a part of the audited Red Tractor Standard for combinable crops, sugar beet, and fresh produce.
The Red Tractor Standard was updated in October 2019 and the first audits with this in effect will commence 1 March 2020.
Measures for growers will include:
- Growers must be able to demonstrate that they have completed the PA4G qualification, attended a face-to-face nematicide course or completed the online learning on the ARTIS website
- Growers must demonstrate they have had their applicator checked prior to the season start and, on each workday
- Growers must be able to demonstrate that their machinery effectively incorporates the granules, including at the row ends.
For more information on the NSP Protocol visit the NSP website: www.nspstewardship.co.uk