Herbicide development hampered by shortage of finance for research

A lack of research funding is impeding the development of new herbicides to replace those being withdrawn, the British Crop Production Council's Annual Weed Review heard last week.

Rothamsted Research weed specialist Dr Peter Lutman said: "Only a very few substantial projects are now being carried out, funding is limited, there is no long-term strategy for projects and about 30 per cent is short-term work being done by PhD students. It is now time for us to consider how we get more strategic funding into weed research."

Among the bright spots, however, is the new SCEPTRE research project, according to ADAS research scientist Lynn Tatnell. "The aim is to fill the gap from the loss of actives, identify crop safe actives and develop sustainable integrated pest management systems," she said.

"Perennial weeds are particularly challenging to bio-herbicides," she added. "But from the pot trials, one or two products look very promising. We will extend the work into field trials next year with repeated applications and look at bacteria-based products and mixes."

Bayer CropScience herbicides development manager Dr Gordon Anderson-Taylor said: "Despite the various regulatory challenges, loss of herbicides and ongoing build-up of resistance to current products, the presentations made at this meeting demonstrated a range of innovative approaches being taken to address all of these critical issues."

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