AHDB at forefront of developing weed control solutions for growers

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AHDB is reassuring growers alternative weed control solutions are in the pipeline following the loss of another important active.

The recent decision not to renew authorisation of pre-emergence herbicide linuron could leave growers without an alternative chemical option.

The EU-approved herbicide metobromuron has given good results in AHDB-funded trials. UK authorisations for use of the product on horticultural crops are not expected until at least 2018, but AHDB is working to obtain earlier authorisations in key crops.

AHDB’s SCEPTREplus, a new four year programme of crop protection product trials, will launch in April 2017. It aims to deliver applied research on high priority disease, pest and weed problems in fresh produce and ornamental crops in order to support approval of products and devise and develop IPM programmes.

Non-chemical solutions are also being sought by AHDB through investment in innovative technology, including ‘Eyespot’, an automated system for applying herbicide droplets to individual leaves of weeds in row crops.

Linuron loss ‘blow to growers’

The decision not to renew linuron was announced in January and the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) has confirmed the final sale and distribution date as 3 June 2017 and 3 June 2018 for the disposal, storage and use of existing stocks.

Ian Holmes, research and development chair at the British Carrot Growers Association (BCGA), said: “The loss of linuron in carrot and parsnip crops cannot be understated. As there are currently no direct alternatives to cover the gaps the loss of linuron will leave, its removal is a blow to growers both in terms of efficacy and the relative cost of the alternative strategies we will need to look to employ.”

Joe Martin, crop protection senior scientist at AHDB, said: “We know from our crop protection gap analysis work in 2016 that weed control is a high priority in 38 crops or crop groups and one of the biggest challenges growers face is overcoming their reliance on chemical herbicides as the number of products available continues to decline. We have recently announced the launch of SCEPTREplus which will consider weed control as a central part of its programme.”

Manufacturers will offer herbicides for testing within SCEPTREplus trials to address some of the key industry priorities. “At the BCGA we are looking to work closely with AHDB Horticulture to develop new strategies to deal with the loss of linuron through the SCEPTREplus project, both in terms of finding new chemical solutions but also to look for improved cultural or non-chemical techniques for weed control. This work is vital in providing an independent view on products that could be available to us as an industry and in liaising with the chemical companies to help develop approvals,” added Mr Holmes

“The future for weed control may look uncertain but by researching new technologies and working closely with manufacturers and growers, AHDB is at the forefront of developing solutions for growers,” added Mr Martin.

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