Arable farmers, and all those that supply them, had the chance to truly ‘get real’ at Cereals 2016, the UK’s premier event for all things arable. In the Learning Zone, in a seminar hosted by The Oxford Farming Conference, Real IPM UK Managing Director and Buckinghamshire farmer Antony Pearce gave a presentation to a packed audience to point out the relevance of real integrated pest management now and in future. His main points are summarised here.
IPM – the obvious and effective approach
“UK Farmers need not be scared of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – you’re already doing it. Your six point IPM strategy includes:
1. Acceptable pest levels
2. Preventative cultural practices
4. Mechanical controls
5. Biological controls
6. Responsible Pesticide Use
This is Real IPM in practice.”
Bio control on field scale is the new frontier
“About 5% of the UK crop protection market is currently biological products. This lags behind the rest of the EU where the proportion of biological products is 12%. You only have to look to the policies of big research and development companies – investing in biological solutions, acquiring bio companies, releasing bio-chem hybrid products in the USA – to see where they see the market growing.
There are political pointers too: the French government has a target of 50% reduction of pesticide use by 2025. Add to that the stated aims of UK retailers, for example Marks and Spencer Senior Agronomist Matt O’Hagan, to welcome bio control solutions to common persistent problems. This is providing an incentive from the market for produce grown with IPM. The other important drivers are public opinion and regulation.”
Schooling up the capacity of farmers to use new tools
“Real IPM is complicated. It requires a deeper understanding of the crop, the pest life cycle, the prevailing conditions by farmer and agronomist than a single product protocol. We need to fully understand the interactions in nature. But attitudes are changing. Bespoke and flexible agronomy is gaining ground. Solutions that make economic sense as well as the desired agronomic impact. A broad spectrum ‘one size fits all’ approach is replaced by a very focussed plan.”
Smart use of mix and match tools for real integrated pest management
“Coordinating chemical with biological agents gives remarkable results. It can be called the ‘stress and kill’ approach. For example, the use of a low dose chemical hit (up to 70% lower dose than chemical use alone) to weaken the target together with the biological product that kills.”
Getting real about the future of crop protection with IPM
The response of the fifty-strong audience to Antony Pearce’s presentation about Real IPM in practice was positive.
Bayer’s Tim Lacey confirmed that their popular biopesticide Serenade is available for broad acre crops. Friends of the Earth’s Sandra Bell commented that even AHDB trials had shown that neonic-dressed winter oilseed rape had performed as poorly as non-dressed seed with regards to flea beetle control. She said this gives a warning sign that reliance on neonics is misplaced and alternative solutions need to be found.
Oxfordshire farmer Al Brookes, who chaired the Learning Zone seminar series, wondered how he might be able to farm without a key chemical tool such as glyphosate. Antony Pearce suggested that increased use of diesel to fuel extra cultivations could be one option in black grass control. He added that developing a biopesticide to control weeds has proved to be very difficult!
No-one can deny that arable farming is difficult. But the theme amongst the stalls, demos and crowds of visitors at Cereals 2016 was that with the right tools and approach cereal farming still has potential. That is precisely where Real IPM UK, and the first products in our growing collection, is pleased to fit in.