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Sustainable Crop and Environment Protection – Targeted Research for Edibles: SCEPTRE - HL01109

Aim of the project
To deliver applied research on high priority disease, pest and weed problems in fruit and in vegetable crops order to support approval of new products and devise integrated pest management (IPM) programmes.

The UK horticulture industry is a core deliverer of government policy on food security and health, and is essential for the sustainable provision of safe, healthy fruit and vegetables for consumers. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the methods by which food is produced and this may deter some people from eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. In response, food retailers demand ever more stringent reductions in pesticide use on food crops which challenges UK growers to fulfill their role in contributing to a secure food supply.

Growers rely on synthetic pesticides in order to grow quality produce in a cost-effective manner. Yet the availability and scope for use of pesticides to control diseases, pests and weeds in UK horticultural crops are under pressure from legislation (pesticide and environmental), climate change, the development of resistance in target organisms and market requirements (eg reduced pesticide inputs and maximum residue levels).

Biopesticides and biological control agents provide alternative control methods and have many established uses for pest control in protected crops with others under development. However they are largely unexploited on outdoor crops. In addition, no biopesticides exist for weed control and there are very few for disease control, though there are an increasing number of ‘grey area’ products, sold as ‘plant strengtheners’ or ‘ invigorators’, that are not registered as pesticides but imply disease or pest control.

Crop protection companies continue to produce new, lower environmental impact actives for use on major world crops. Several promising fungicides and insecticides and a few herbicides are in development. But the number of new actives that become registered for use on edible horticultural crops is relatively small, largely due to the small size of the markets in relation to development costs.

Faced with a declining armoury of synthetic chemical pesticides, due especially to changing EU legislation, there is an urgent need to develop biopesticidal and other replacement solutions wherever possible.

1. Identify current and pre-commercial pesticides and biopesticides and assess their potential for use on key crop protection priorities in fruit and vegetable production in the UK to fill pesticide gaps and reduce overall use of synthetic pesticides.
2. For disease and pest problems, design and deliver pesticide and biopesticide efficacy tests on key crop protection priorities in order to identify effective and crop-safe products for potential use in sustainable disease and pest IPM solutions.
3. For disease and pest problems, design and test sustainable IPM programmes that incorporate pesticides and biopesticides identified in this project to fill pesticide gaps and reduce the use of synthetic pesticides.
4. For weed problems, design and deliver herbicide screening tests with emphasis on crop tolerance, including residue studies in Year 1.
5. For weed problems, design and test systems to reduce herbicide usage by more targeted application and/or other methods, and integrate these with current commercial practice.
Project Documents
• ABS - Abstract : HL01109 abstract   (28k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2014

Cost: £760,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Marks and Spencer plc, J E Piccaver & Co (Gedney Marsh), Belchim Crop Protection Ltd, Rationale Biopesticide Strategists, Syngenta Crop Protection UK Ltd, Allium & Brassica Centre Ltd, East Malling Research, Dupont (UK) Ltd, ADAS UK Ltd., AHDB-Horticulture, Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dow Agrosciences Ltd, H & H Duncalfe, Stockbridge Technology Centre, Total Berry, Bayer CropScience Ltd, Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, John Sedgwick, Warwick - HRI, BASF plc, The Fresh Produce Consortium, International Produce Ltd, Berryworld Ltd, Koppert UK Ltd
Biological Control