In the wake of the UK governments published view that the ban of the neonicotinoids is “unnecessary and unjustified”, the views of farmers in Great Britain and Germany have been established directly by a recent survey conducted by the Kleffmann Group. This survey of 1,113 German farmers and 400 British farmers clearly shows that farmers too think that the ban of these insecticides makes little sense.
The Kleffmann Group, partnered in the UK by Independent Business Resource Limited (IBR-Ltd), conducts on-going comprehensive surveys of European farmers, collecting quantitative and qualitative information related to crops and inputs. This most recent survey asked farmers about their past use of neonicotinoid seed treatments and what they thought about the ban of these effective insecticides.
“From December this year usage of products containing neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiomethoxam - are forbidden in several crops across the EU for a two year period. Asking farmers directly about this in a survey, the data shows that 96% of UK and 95% of German farmers had heard about the discussion to ban this group of insecticides. Just 1% of GB and 3% of German farmers had not. Certainly the neonicotinoids have been under the spotlight in relation to declining bee numbers, but the industry is in debate on the political versus the scientific evidence to link the two. I would expect farmers to be involved in this debate,” says Roger Pratchett, Director of IBR-Ltd.
Asked if they had used any neonicotinoids as a seed dressing in their winter oilseed rape, 74% of GB farmers and 58% of German farmers responded positively. Just 6% of GB farmers said No to using neonicotinoids in rape, with 20% saying that they did not know. In Germany 18% said they didn’t use these seed dressing, with 25% not knowing.
“The current widespread adoption of neonicotinoid treated seed by UK oilseed rape farmers will inevitably result in a rethink of insecticide treatments once the ban takes effect,” says Roger.
Asked how they evaluated the general impact of the ban of this group of insecticides, 42% of German farmers and 29% of GB farmers said that it made no sense at all, with just 6% of German and 1% of GB farmers saying that it really made sense. Farmers views on the impact of the ban of these actives was established by asking them to select on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was that the ban really made sense to 5 which meant that the ban made no sense at all. In GB farmers who chose categories 5 and 4 in their evaluation i.e the ban made no sense came to 58% and in Germany 56%.
Asked if the ban would have any effect on their choice of oilseed rape variety, 36% of German and 27% of GB farmers said it would make a significant impact. “Asked if it would make any significant impact on their crop protection programme, 38% of German and 31% of GB farmers said it has a significant impact. Adding together the top two categories of answers in the question about the impact on crop protection, in GB this came to 60% of farmers and in Germany 52%. So the conclusion is that both German and British farmers are very concerned about the ban of neonicotinoid insecticides on rape and their imminent ban across the EU will have a significant impact on both varietal and crop protection choices,” says Roger Pratchett.
Finally when farmers were asked which manufacturer of seed dressing products do they associate with neonicotinoids, most farmers did not know (71% in GB and 61% in Germany), but those that did express a view said Bayer (36% of German and 20% of GB farmers) and Syngenta (6% of German and 16% of GB growers). However this is in line with other research which shows a lack of awareness by growers of the link between brand/ active and marketing company.