Relief for crop growers in blight fight

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Emergency use of the crop protection product Insyst has been authorised to protect winter oilseed rape from further damage by cabbage stem flea beetle following pressure from farmers who have seen significant damage to their crops.

The approval was granted for 120 days on September 26.

Guy Smith, vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), said: “For many farmers currently trying to combat the flea beetle menace, this approval will give them a new vital tool in their tool box when it comes to establishing good crops of oilseed rape. But for those who have already seen their crops significantly compromised by flea beetle, the response is bound to be, ‘if only we had had these products sooner’.”

The European Commission banned three neonicotinoid seed treatments used by British farmers on autumn sown oilseed rape last year due to the risks they pose to bees.

“The challenge of growing oilseed rape this autumn without a key crop protection tool demonstrates well the points we have raised in our Healthy Harvest campaign.

“We need regulators to properly understand the impacts their decisions can have on the ability of farmers to produce a reliable supply of affordable, healthy, food to meet a growing demand.”

The second most planted crop in England, oilseed rape is an important crop for pollinators.

The NFU said that an extension had also been granted for the use of Bayer product Biscaya which, it said, will relieve pressure on farmers to control aphids and the destructive Turnips Yellow virus that they spread, in the absence of control by neonicotinoid seed treatments.