Defra allows osr neonics, but for small area

The NFU’s second emergency application for the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments on oilseed rape crops to be drilled this autumn has been approved by Defra. However, the permit is restricted to certain areas, estimated to total around 30,000ha or 5% of the English crop.

Growers will be able to use seed treated with Bayer CropScience’s Modesto or Syngenta’s Cruiser OSR, with the emergency use period lasting 120 days. The NFU says discussions on the logistics of distributing the seed are already underway.

“The NFU has worked relentlessly to submit a robust application and we’re glad to finally see a positive result,” says vice president Guy Smith. “However, we know that this isn’t enough – the flea beetle threat is a widespread problem on a national scale, and the extremely limited nature of this authorisation is not going to help the vast majority of farmers in need of the protection.

“We will ensure that this approval is made the most of, both logistically and through the detailed monitoring of the crop for useful data. We will also call on Defra to contribute to solutions for the many farmers whose crops are significantly threatened by flea beetle but will not have access to these products.”

For the Crop Protection Association, chief executive Nick von Westenholz states: “Whilst we will wait to see the detail of the emergency use approval, we are pleased to see that the government has recognised the important role these products play in controlling pests in oilseed rape by granting a derogation.

“Nevertheless, it is disappointing that, due to the late timing of the decision and the limitations of the derogation, many farmers will still be unable to access this vital technology and will continue to struggle to protect their crops this coming season.”

NFU combinable crops board chair Mike Hambly adds:  "Many farmers who are persevering with oilseed rape will have already committed to seed orders. Getting appropriately dressed seed across a range of varieties available is verging on the impossible.

“We will now look to work with the regulators towards more efficient authorisations after the arduous process we have been through to get to this point.”