Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson discussed the risk of new EU pesticide legislation.
He said: "At the same time as this new legislation is introduced, the ornamental sector of horticulture is facing an unprecedented attack from new pests and diseases such as sudden oak death, fireblight, oak processionary moth, bleeding canker of chestnuts and Phytophthora disease in alders. The real fear is that the industry will not have the resources to combat such outbreaks in the future as the new EU legislation is introduced.
"The problem, of course, is that ‘safer' options are not necessarily readily available for all crops and/or targets and the potential financial returns to justify development of new, apparently more acceptable, chemical (or biological) controls in this sector are not high enough to encourage specific research and development programmes. It will therefore prove to be increasingly difficult to find alternative chemical solutions to replace those products lost.
"While a few ‘biological' products e.g. compost teas, predatory insects etc are already in use on some nurseries (see www.nurserymen.co.uk/trade/about_us/environment for more information) more work is urgently needed to seek effective biological alternatives so that the industry can rely more heavily on natural P&D control options as effective alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides.
"The aim must be to establish robust Integrated Crop Management (ICM) practices through the sourcing and development of novel solutions to counter the wide range of problems that the ornamentals sector is facing. This will require considerable time, effort and money to deliver satisfactory and environmentally sustainable solutions. It is imperative, therefore, that priority is given to improving such ICM practice in the coming few years."