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5 March 2017 10:21:30 |Arable,Crops and Cereals,News,Products

AHDB Horticulture stresses the need for crop protection measures

Farmers are being urged to increase public awareness around the use of crop protection products.

Farmers are being urged to increase public awareness around the use of crop protection products.

AHDB Horticulture has stressed the need for crop protection measures to adapt to ensure the UK’s horticultural crops are effectively protected in the long term.
Speaking about the levy body’s new strategy, AHDB Horticulture's Strategy Director Steve Tones noted that while crop protection still accounted for 70% of AHDB Horticulture’s spend, changing environmental and political conditions means that the nature of crop protection is evolving.
“One of the industry’s major challenges is pesticide availability,” Mr Tones said.
“While making effective use of the chemicals we can use we also need to develop crop protection methods which use plant biology to fight pests and diseases. New advances in precision farming techniques will also benefit the industry as they become more practical and accessible, and these should allow growers to rely less on chemical interventions.”
Access to chemicals
However, while embracing the potential these developments offer, AHDB Horticulture is trying to ensure growers can access those chemicals they need, particularly through their work applying for EAMUs (Extended Authorisation for Minor Use).
“EAMUs are a key priority for levy payers and will remain a clear focus for AHDB,” Mr Tones said.
“These off label recommendations ensure that growers can access effective pesticides and herbicides and our team at AHDB generates up to one hundred of these each year.
“The EAMUs are critical short-term projects, something our growers really need, but we will also focus on those longer term projects, for example soil health, which will need much lengthier collaborative work to see real change.”
Market development
Mr Tones also explained why AHDB Horticulture was venturing into market development, attempting to change consumer perceptions, a previously unexplored area for them.
He said: “AHDB Horticulture represents a diverse range of growers, from small to very large businesses, which grow a huge variety of crops from ornamental flowers, to salads, field vegetables and soft fruit.
“While most parts of the industry invest significant sums in market development and have no need for AHDB support, some businesses do have genuine needs and AHDB can support these growers to improve consumer perceptions.
“We also need to look more generally at the consumption of fresh produce in the UK. We have the ability now to grow a huge range of incredibly healthy fruit and vegetables and yet consumption is decreasing. We need to work with partners to improve the general public’s consumption, which will benefit both the health of the population and our producers’ businesses.”


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