Enhanced crop nutrition strategy can reduce our dependence on pesticides
Farmers have very little influence over the renewal of pesticide approvals or of new pesticide registrations. In order to protect their survival and to enable them to achieve our national agricultural production targets, tillage farmers must:
- Keep our politicians informed of the critical nature of herbicides and fungicides;
- Take action to reduce their reliance on pesticides.
Disease control with fungicides is one of the major management tools that farmers use to protect yield potential. The withdrawal of approval of many products, and indeed the cost of finding replacement products, is putting that strategy under major stress.
Some of the withdrawals are due more to environmental concerns and pressure groups than to scientific fact. Farmers have very little influence on pressure groups.
But they can show and demonstrate that they are using the products that are available to them in a responsible manner and that they minimise their use where possible.
EU consumers need to be aware of the fact that all foods grown in Europe are highly regulated and that all pesticide usage must be recorded by farmers, and that those records are likely to be inspected at any time.
Consumers must also be made aware of the fact that 'Produced in Ireland' on a food label does not mean grown in Ireland and that logos with a tricolour does not mean grown in Ireland. In fact, those products may have come from any part of the world, possibly without any regulations on pesticide usage.
All pesticides must be used for identified reasons, with rates tailored to the specific task in hand.
The Integrated Pest Management programme, to which all farmers are signed up to, requires that a large range of crop management tools must be used before pesticides are used.