AHDB Horticulture has announced the launch of SCEPTRE+, a new £1.4 million, four-year programme of crop protection product trials, beginning this spring.
The new work will target disease, pest and weed problems identified as high priorities in the 2017-2020 horticulture strategy. These are recognised by sector panels and crop associations as vital areas of research in the fight against a dwindling crop protection armoury, according to AHDB.
The programme builds on the success of the original SCEPTRE project, which saw more than 140 chemical and bio-control products trialled in the UK, said AHDB.
The four-year AHDB Horticulture-funded SCEPTRE programme tested some of the key conventional chemical and bio-control products that were available for edible crops. More than 80 chemical pesticides and 60 bio-pesticides were tested on fruit and vegetable crops, field-grown and under protection.
Twelve Extension of Authorisation for Minor Uses (EAMU) have been issued directly linked to SCEPTRE, including the emergency authorisation of Benevia 10OD, aimed at helping growers to counter the large influx of Diamondback moth last year, according to AHDB.
Dorin Pop of Bayer said: “Manufacturers find it uneconomic to test and develop products for minor horticultural crops. This is where SCEPTRE has added real benefit to growers, to hasten the process and bring chemistry to the industry.”
AHDB Horticulture strategy director, Steve Tones, said: “SCEPTRE+ has arrived at just the right time, as we embark on a new strategic direction. I have spoken to so many growers who identify crop protection as a high priority to remain competitive and productive.
“Our sector board wants to focus AHDB levy investment on these activities that add the most value, avoid duplicating work already being done by others and build our work on cross-cutting themes of broad benefit to all horticulture sectors.
“We understand Extensions of Authorisations for Minor Uses (EAMUs) are essential crop protection measures for our growers and this project will escalate the rate at which new products get authorised. Other, more forward-looking work will focus on the long term development of robust integrated crop management systems to minimise future crop losses from diseases, pests and weeds.”