Horticulture Week Podcast: the battle against weeds - Amenity Forum's Peter Corbett on how it should be fought

"Frustrated farmer", environmental scientist and Amenity Forum executive officer Peter Corbett is working on the frontline of the crop protection industry "hoping making sure politicians legislate in a way that you still have freedom to operate".

From glyphosate to neonicotinoids, battles are being waged worldwide in courtrooms, governments and in the court of public opinion, and Corbett says decisions are made partly through ignorance: "It's quite interesting how little people understand about crop protection products."

He adds moves to ban glyphosate are based on arguments that "would be disputed by science...you need to look at everything in the right context, and also in the right dose".

He is involved in Defra's draft revised UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides, which he hopes will be published soon.

He argues that the debates on sustainability regarding use of weed control products and techniques are often too simplistic, sometimes misinformation ("just because you read it on the internet, doesn't mean it's true") and based on a "misunderstanding of risk benefit".

"If you want vegetation managed there's lots of different ways that we can manage that vegetation, but there are more sustainable ways to do it which isn't necessarily put across in a way that everybody understands."

Outlining some of the different approaches available to contractors he says: "Potentially we can be using the chemical techniques for managing vegetation and very often they are actually the most sustainable form when you take into account cost, environment and impact on society.

"The last two years have shown how important open spaces are, but it's also shown that we have to manage those and we have to invest in them."

Presenter: senior reporter Rachael Forsyth
Producer: digital content manager Christina Taylor

Make sure you never miss a Horticulture Week podcast! Subscribe to or Follow Horticulture Week podcasts via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts or your preferred podcast platform. 

If you are interested in producing a podcast with HortWeek, contact hortweek@haymarket.com.

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