5 March 1999

Pesticide tax runs contrary to MAFFs own research work

THE government is ignoring its own MAFF-funded research in pursuit of environmental dogma. That is the concern of a leading Scottish agrochemical distributor who wants tighter ipu controls.

A pesticide tax is still very much a live issue in government circles, according to Keith Dawson of CSC CropCare.

"But the effectiveness of the proposed tax is akin to putting a tax on petrol to tackle drunk driving," says Dr Dawson. "It is misguided and an extremely costly, blunt instrument.

"The government is committed to the principle of the polluter pays. Yet here we have the opposite – everyone pays!

"We have the bizarre spectacle of the Dept of Health rightly encouraging increased consumption of fresh fruit and veg and the Dept of the Environment increasing taxes on them and encouraging food imports. This is not a pesticide tax but a tax on health, food and the balance of payments," he says.

"Recently published meticulous MAFF research under the SCARAB and TALISMAN projects over five years showed minimal adverse effects of label usage of pesticides on wildlife. Yet the government appears to be ignoring this valuable work.

"The only significant problem that we currently have is that of diffuse pollution of isoproturon in watercourses. This needs more specific action rather than the broad brush tax approach," he adds.

"In the past three years there have been significant advances in chemistry for grass weed control including blackgrass. It is now time to consider even tighter prescriptive controls on ipu, or even a ban, to encourage use of superior methods of control." &#42

Agronomy at Potato 99

AGRONOMY is the focus of Potato 99, a new event to be staged on Sept 8-9 by the British Potato Council on light land farmed by J M Houndsfield near Newark, Notts.

A big downturn of sales of potato lifters prompted the switch from a traditional harvester demo, says event co-ordinator, Oliver Statham. "But what we will have is 4.5ha for out-of-season cultivations, separating bed forming and planting with denatured seed which will be harvested the following day."

Key to the event will be four areas of growing crop to highlight major BPC-funded research:

&#8226 Reference crop to show differences in crop development.

&#8226 The role of agronomy in meeting market requirements.

&#8226 Seed health.

&#8226 Variety choice.

Technical seminars will support the plots and trade exhibitors will also have the chance to grow demonstration crops.

Tickets for the event will be £5 in advance or £10 on the day with a £20 maximum per car (tel: 01865 782260.) &#42

Organic shortages

UNLESS more arable farmers convert to organic production there could be a shortage of raw materials to meet future demand for organic animal feed rations. That is the warning from Derby-based feed specialist HI-Peak Feeds which claims the arable sector is dragging its feet.

HI-Peaks Ian Proctor fears a "potential difficulty" is looming. &#42

Industry standard

SUREFILL closed transfer packs are to be used for Vydate 10G (oxamyl) granular insecticide from Du Pont, as well as Rhone-Poulencs Temik 10G (aldicarb).

Du Pont had been developing its own closed transfer systems, but dropped those in favour of R-Ps system after its successful launch last year. &#42