A cross-industry taskforce is calling for UK oilseed rape growers to join an ambitious on-farm monitoring and trials programme in the war against cabbage stem flea beetle.
csfbSMART – ‘Sharing Management and Agronomy Research Tools’ - has been set-up to test management methods and tools for use against the pest on UK farms, with oilseed rape growers provided with information on how to implement and assess these management strategies over the next three years.
It connects two research projects investigating CSFB control. ‘Reducing the impact of CSFB on OSR in the UK’ aims to improve understanding of the pest’s biology and investigate alternative management methods. It is led by ADAS and Harper Adams University and funded by AHDB and a consortium of industry organisations. The second, ‘CSFB: evaluating management of oilseed rape on-farm for maximum margins’, led by NIAB and funded by Defra, aims to test these management methods on a wider scale, encouraging growers to carry out their own trials and assess their effectiveness.
NIAB oilseed rape specialist and project leader Colin Peters describes csfbSMART as a unique, one-off, opportunity, drawing together knowledge and experience in a coordinated and sustained effort, and urges growers to sign up for the initial workshop at niab.com/csfbsmart.
He says: “From spring 2021 through to 2024, csfbSMART will help support farmers to monitor, assess and share information, building a national and seasonal picture of the pressures of CSFB larvae and adults within oilseed rape crops and the wider farming environment. Learning from successes and failures, and working together with researchers and trade experts, will allow growers to select innovations for detailed assessment through on-farm evaluation and research investigation.”
Cambridgeshire farmer David White emphasises the industry wide desire to reduce increasingly ineffectual farm insecticide applications, particularly on oilseed rape. “Farmers are practising a broader range of IPM techniques of which some will be more effective than others. There will be growers that are unaware of measures that have been tried successfully by others but, as always with farmer trials, the results will not have been accurately quantified. This initiative is important in how it combines this knowledge set, giving farmers a broader range of IPM measures to try that have been backed up by statistically verified data.”