Tongue End farmer speaks out on the temporary ban on Neonicotinoid use

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With the oilseed rape crop sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) harvest is only a matter of days away, writes Julian Davis.

It is easy to forget how tall the hybrid varieties can get. We have the occasional lodged bit, but it has generally remained upright. The same variety will be grown next year so although I nearly got it right this year, a little more attention to detail may be beneficial.

In six or seven weeks’ time we will be drilling the next crop of rape. This is where the ‘temporary’ European ban on the use of Neonicotinoid insecticides will have an effect as our seed cannot now be treated with chemicals of this group.

The consequences will depend on soil conditions and weather this autumn. If the crop establishes quickly and grows away well the damaging affects of pests such as flea beetle may be reduced. But other pest will need controlling.

Alternatives to the seed treatments are spray applications of different chemical groups of insecticide, but we are seeing pest resistance forming. Seed treatments are also a more effective way of controlling application, with much less chemical applied more accurately.

It is difficult to know who to believe when it comes to the effects of Neonicotinoids on our pollinators such as the humble bumble bee. One thing is certain; we do not want to damage them. But who to believe when the research is either commercially or politically motivated?