Reports that the European Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) has voted against renewing the approval of fungicide chlorothalonil will rob Scottish growers of a vital plant protection product, NFU Scotland has warned.
NFU Scotland understands that SCoPAFF has supported the recommendation for non-renewal of approval which means chlorothalonil will be withdrawn although no dates have been given yet. Products containing chlorothalonil, such as Bravo, are already in use this growing season.
Chairman of NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee, Ian Sands, who owns and contract farms just under 2,000ac in Perthshire, said: “This is a massive setback for the cereal growing sector with huge potential to affect the whole of the Scottish food and drink industry.
“Growers like myself will find it very hard to understand why a product that has been in use since 1964 is now deemed to be unsafe.
“Without doubt, this product is the mainstay of fungal disease control in Scotland’s largest and most important crop, barley, where it is the only effective tool available for the control of ramularia leaf spot.
“Ramularia also impairs quality and can increase screenings, hitting those who are growing for a quality market like malt whisky.
“Chlorothalonil is also an important fungicide to protect other crops such as wheat, both by itself and mixed with other products to manage disease resistance, and alternatives are nowhere near as effective.
“With the number of plant protection products available to growers shrinking, the loss of chlorothalonil has the potential to make the viability of growing crops borderline and given the huge importance of barley and wheat to the Scottish drinks industry, this could cause serious problems for this iconic sector.
“Factor in that this product is still going to be allowed to be used in other countries out with the EU, then this is disastrous for our growers.”