Farmers and crofters say they have been left with ‘no economic means’ of controlling damaging leatherjackets on grassland, following the rejection of an emergency authorisation application for the use of chlorpyrifos.
The UK farm unions said their members’ crops had been suffering leatherjacket damage since the Chemicals Regulations Directorate (CRD) banned the use of products containing chlorpyrifos except under very limited circumstances, from April 1.
Widely-used plant protection products (PPP) such as Dursban WG and Equity, which contained the active substance chlorpyrifos, have been used for decades to control a wide range of pests in grassland, arable crops, vegetables and soft fruit.
The NFU in Scotland, England and Wales, worked with the Ulster Farmers’ Union and Dow Agrochemicals to submit an application to CRD for a 120-day emergency authorisation for use of Equity, a PPP containing chlorpyrifos, to control leatherjackets on new sown leys and established grassland this autumn.
However, the application was rejected this week.
NFUS vice president Andrew McCornick said the unions were ‘bitterly disappointed’.
“The toolkit for grassland farmers and crofters, as well as others affected by pests previously controlled with chlorpyrifos, is empty,” said Mr McCornick.
“We had sought limited and controlled access to chlorpyrifos with robust safeguards for human health. Unfortunately, CRD, despite recently stating the product posed no risk to human health, has denied farmers and crofters access to it.”
He said the union would be ‘exploring new options as a matter of urgency’.