"Our levy payers grow more than 300 crops and supporting all of them can stretch our resources, but crop protection is a huge part of what we do," he said.
"We have pioneered extensions of authorisation for minor use (previously specific off-label approvals) since 1992, which have enabled vegetable growing to continue in this country. We also help maintain approval of off-patent chemicals, including those that cereal growers no longer use."
He added: "We gained 87 approvals in 2012, but at £1,700 an application, it's an expensive business. And we give bio-pesticides at least an equal chance.
But Philip Effingham of Greentech Consultancy said the industry remains deficient in bio-pesticides. "US growers have access to 477, in the Netherlands it's 79, in the UK it's 18. It's a disgraceful situation," he complained.