Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 25 March 2019

Why a magnifying glass might be the best purchase for tillage farmers to make this year

Wheat harvest
Wheat harvest
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Farmers need to use more holistic methods of pest control this springtime with important management chemicals in danger of being removed from the marketplace, it has been urged.

Growers at a Teagasc Winter Crop Walk in Oak Park, Co Carlow were told one of the best purchases they could make this year would be to buy a magnifying glass and get down out of the tractor to examine the crops.

With a heavy workload ahead for the spring, farmers were urged to make note of diseases in their crops, including new and more sustained outbreaks, on their maps this year and for the coming seasons. Growers were urged to use these as tools as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to reduce the prevalence of diseases.

Teagasc tillage specialist Ciaran Collins pointed out IPM was already a key requirement under the sustainable use of pesticides directive. However, he said it was more vital than ever with the loss of important actives through development resistance and through the regulatory process at EU level.

Concerns over the potential loss of chlorothalonil

Mr Collins said there was also less efficacy from products and with IPM the fungicides would be used less frequently and would be more targeted.

“Getting timings right would be the big one from a fungicide perspective. It is a requirement anyway but in terms of longevity of products, it is a more sustainable system,” he said. “An ongoing issue is the septoria resistance.”

Steven Kildea, cereal pathologist at Oak Park, also drummed home the point that if you have to evaluate disease and how crops are performing on farm. For instance, he highlighted that if you have to start treating for Yellow Rust at this stage, then next year a decision should be made not to sow that variety or not to plant it so early.

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He pointed out that in advance years like this growers must keep watch to ensure they are aware when the plant reaches leaf three stage to make certain they get their application timing correct.

“If there is one investment that everybody does make this year it is for a hand lense or a magnifying glass. Getting out and unrolling those crops. That is going to be absolutely critical because the chemistry is not sufficient to provide us with the flexibility in our timings so we have to get those timings right,” said Mr Kildea.

Earlier this week, Mairead McGuinness, first vice-president of the European Parliament, said the EU rules on the sustainable use of pesticides must be better implemented. It followed a vote in Strasbourg on a Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides.

The report calls for a reduction in the use of pesticides and the development of safer, biological controls. It calls for a fast track procedure to get low risk pesticides onto the market.

Parliament rejected calls for a 50pc reduction in the use of pesticides, but called for sustainable biological, physical and other non-chemical methods, if they provide satisfactory control.

A global scientific review, published in the journal of Biological Conservation, notes that more than 40pc of insect species are declining and a third are endangered.

“While there are many reasons for the loss of insects, the report points to intensive agriculture as the main reason for the declines, particularly the use of pesticides,” Ms McGuinness said.

"Today’s report calls for a renewed emphasis on IPM measures and calls for the better implementation of existing rules on how pesticides are used in order to mitigate potential risks to the environment and human and animal health,” she said.

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