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Counting the cost of neonicotinoid restriction

RESTRICTED USE of some neonicotinoid insecticides will have major cost implications to the cereals and oilseeds sector, according to a review by the Homegrown Cereals Authority.

Restrictions on the use of the clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam were adopted by the European Commission on May 24, 2013, and will apply from December 1, 2013.

HGCA researchers have taken a close look at the pests controlled by neonicotinoid seed treatments in cereals and oilseeds, including pest transmitted viruses, along with alternative control options and resistance challenges.

HGCA's Caroline Nicholls stated: "The greatest impact will be on oilseed rape, as these seed treatments are used to control cabbage stem flea beetle and peach–potato aphids which transmit turnip yellows virus.

"The situation is not as severe for cereal crops, as treated winter seed can still be used in autumn to control aphids carrying barley yellow dwarf virus. The restrictions only affect cereal crops sown between January and June.

"The potential total cost to the UK industry from not controlling cabbage stem flea beetle and turnip yellows virus in oilseed rape could be £72million a year," added Ms Nicholls. "Alternative chemical control options are available in most situations but there is a risk of resistance developing to some of the alternatives. To help manage the resistance threat, spray decisions should be made using crop monitoring and spray threshold information."

A publication 'Neonicotinoids: key messages' has been made available in time for this year's Cereals event, where Ms Nicholls and other researchers will be on the HGCA stand to discuss the issue with growers.

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