The loss of agrochemical actives as a result of recent EU hazard- based assessment criteria has the potential to cost UK agriculture over £905 million – or 10% of current farm gate value, according to a new AHDB (the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) report.
The report, commissioned by AHDB, assessed the estimated financial impact of the loss of crop protection active substances which might be defined as endocrine disruptors under the new EU hazard-based approach.
Compiled by ADAS on behalf of AHDB, BBRO and PGRO, the report assessed three scenarios across 51 horticultural, arable and forestry sectors. The estimated losses in the subsequent production year under these scenarios ranged from £905 million to over £3 billion, and assumed that all active substances in a scenario were lost at the same time. They also assume that mitigating actions such as alternative chemistry, would be used where available.
Scenario One looks at the loss of 10 fungicides, 3 herbicides and 4 insecticides, with the largest impact on the horticulture sector. Total food production losses are estimated at 2.4 million tonnes. The active substances lost in this scenario that are of greatest importance in terms of the value of crop impacts are abamectin, thiacloprid, prochloraz, iprodione, linuron, mancozeb and tebuconazole.
Scenario Two includes an additional 11 fungicides, 7 herbicides and 2 insecticides, with edible horticulture accounting for the largest proportion of losses, followed by other edible crops such as cereals, oilseeds, potatoes, pulses and sugar beet. Total food production losses are estimated at 5.7 million tonnes. The key active substances affected in Scenario two are: metribuzin (especially in potatoes), deltamethrin, propyzamide, carbetamide, bupirimate and difenoconazole.
Scenario Three includes an additional 29 active substances in addition to both scenarios above with significant impact across all sectors, with food production losses estimated at 14.2 million tonnes. The five most important active substances, in terms of value of crop lost if withdrawn are; chlorpropham (£226M), thiacloprid (£187M), metribuzin (£167M), abamectin (£154M) and prothioconazole (£138M). The top five active substances in terms of the number of crops assessed impacted by their loss are lambda cyhalothrin (28 crops), chlorpyrifos (22 crops), spinosad (22 crops), thiacloprid (21 crops) and deltamethrin (18 crops).
AHDB Chairman Peter Kendall said: “The ability of UK farmers and growers to seize their share of growing market opportunities depends on having the right tools to become the most efficient and sustainable food producers they can.
“Central to that ambition is retaining access to effective crop protection products. This AHDB report comes at a critical time to provide independent information to inform the wider debate.”
Scenario One has the smallest number of actives at threat but edible horticulture is expected to sustain the greatest impact accounting for £431M which is equivalent to 26% of the sector farm gate value. Ornamental horticulture accounts for £317M in lost yield, also 26% of farm gate value.
“It is essential the potential impact of any loss of actives is accurately assessed,” says Dr Jon Knight, HDC’s Head of Research and Knowledge Transfer. “AHDB’s aim is to better inform any decision that is finally made around products deemed to be endocrine disrupting chemicals”
“An adequate range of Crop Protection Products (CPPs) are required to deal with pest problems and sustain levels of production.
“If more crop is lost to weeds, pests and diseases, overall production becomes less efficient with the additional risk of pesticide resistance developing through an inability to rotate pesticide types. The potential impacts are particularly severe for horticulture because the reliance on Extensions of Authorisation for Minor Uses for a range of actives means there are fewer alternative products available for filling any gaps,” he added.
Under Scenario One there are a number of crops with over 33% reductions in yields including leeks, salad onions, asparagus, carrot, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, and hops.
In Scenario One, edible crops including cereals, oilseeds, pulses, potatoes, sugar beet, hops and vines have a total loss of 3% of farm gate (£151 million), while forestry losses are lower at 1% of forest gate (£6 million).
The potato sector follows horticulture in terms of potential farm gate loss in scenario one.
“This would be almost entirely as a result of the significant reduction in weed control following the loss of linuron at £52 million or 6% of farm gate value and increased costs associated with loss of mancozeb at £3 million,” says Potato Council’s Head of R&D, Dr Mike Storey.
“This loss would be exacerbated by at least a further £56 million if metribuzin also went under scenario two.
“Losing mancozeb would also lead to serious concerns over resistance management of potato blight as increased numbers of applications of single mode of action active substances could be required in its absence.
“Future yield losses would therefore increase as resistance develops to remaining active substances,” he added.
Cereals and Oilseeds
Although the number of potential actives under threat is less for cereals and oilseeds, the impact is scaled up over a greater land base. The potential impact for winter wheat in scenario one is estimated at £12 million, and oilseed rape losses are estimated at £ 4 million.
Harley Stoddart, HGCA’s Policy & Research Manager said: “The loss of fungicides to manage rust, especially epoxiconazole, would cause the greatest yield impact to winter wheat.
“For oilseed rape the loss of metconazole and tebuconazole used for disease are the main challenges. In Scenario Two the loss of propyzamide and carbetamide would also severely limit the ability to manage black-grass which affects 40-50% of arable fields.”