A new tool to help farmers, advisers and sprayer operators compare up to 1,800 crop protection products is due to be launched this summer.
Designed by NIAB TAG, the new web-based tool ActivSmart contains data on all approved crop protection products used on arable crops, including cereals, pulses, potatoes, sugar beet and maize.
It allows side-by-side comparisons of up to 27 different attributes of agrochemical products, split into four groups: core product details; aquatic and arthropod buffer zone requirements; application information; and active ingredients.
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NIAB agronomist Andrew Watson, who was involved in developing ActivSmart, says it has many potential applications.
He says: “It is something the industry has been crying out for for a long time and we have had a huge amount of interest, even from manufacturers, because they want to be able to compare their products against their competitors.”
Mr Watson says farmers, agronomists and sprayer operators are most likely to benefit.
“If a farmer is ordering chemicals and his agronomist has given a product recommendation, but the distributor only has a similar product, ActivSmart gives the farmer the ability to compare the two products in a matter of seconds.
“Equally, I can see it being useful for sprayer operators. If a contactor turns up on-farm and is unfamiliar with a product, they can get information about things such as maximum dose rates and buffer zone requirements quickly, without having to read through product labels.”
The ActivSmart tool will be available to the whole industry, not just NIAB members, and Mr Watson says there will be a modest annual subscription charge for those who want access to the tool.
Source: NIAB TAG
He says: “We are expecting huge demand for this product and so we can afford to charge less for it. We want it to be accessible and widely used throughout the industry.”
Looking ahead, NIAB hopes to release an equivalent product for approved horticultural agrochemicals, which will be available as a separate tool, according to Mr Watson.