The Government must pump more money into research on the sustainable use of weedkillers in the wake of a major action plan, according to industry leaders.
The Amenity Forum spoke out after Defra's publication of a 42-page National Action Plan last month on how the Sustainable Use Directive will apply in the UK. The action plan followed a six-month consultation.
"The objective is to ensure pesticides are used sustainably by reducing impacts on human health and the environment," Defra said of the report, with sections on training, kit inspection and handling and storing pesticides.
All pesticide users have a key role to play in ensuring the success of the plan by using integrated approaches, complying with existing rules and using guidance from industry groups such as the Voluntary Initiative.
Amenity Forum chair John Moverley leapt on the plan's acknowledgement of the need "in view of the declining number of pesticide products and pesticide resistance to develop a greater range of viable techniques and ensure these are adopted by users".
He called for more resources and attention to research and development to hit on workable and cost-effective alternative techniques. It is vital to base integrated control methods on sound research and development, Moverley added.
"There is willingness among our members to use integrated techniques but this needs to be effective in achieving the required levels of control and economics. More research is needed in this area and the forum stands ready to help."
He said the amenity sector is far larger than often recognised and covers streets, rail tracks, woodlands, motorways, service stations, golf courses and sports grounds - most of them open to the public and in areas more sensitive than fields.
"We are behind the Government on the need to look at integrated methods but there must be a greater driver in the form of research and development," said Moverley. "Using products like glyphosate is still the most effective, cost-effective and product-effective practice."
ACTION PLAN DELIVERING GOOD PRACTICE
"The plan can only be delivered through Government working in partnership with stakeholders such as the crop-protection industry and wider agriculture, horticulture and amenity interests. The Government is keen to ensure that regulatory burdens on businesses are kept to a minimum and reduced or removed wherever possible. For pesticides, this means that the action plan aims for non-regulatory approaches to be adopted as much as possible and looks to stakeholder partners to deliver these."
National Action Plan, Defra