Workshop on the impact of reduced pesticide availability: Challenges for UK agriculture & horticulture

13th December 2011, Institute of Physics, London

This workshop focused on issues and opportunities associated with the withdrawal of crop protection chemicals in Europe. It considered the societal context surrounding public perception concerning the acceptability of using certain pesticides and alternative approaches to crop protection, and the effect that consumer acceptability has on driving regulation.

The agenda and links to the accompanying presentations presented at the meeting are provided below.


Introduction and Objectives

The meeting brought together around forty experts from universities, research institutes, industries, levy bodies, growers and end-users to review the challenges facing the agriculture sector and to explore opportunities to develop and apply new technologies to meet the challenges of realising crop yield potential to increase agricultural productivity with reduced pesticide availability.

Introduction to the Biosciences KTN and the Interest Group in Crop  Defence for Food and Feed Security - Tom Jenkins, Biosciences KTN

Abstracts from each of the presentations listed below, and a short biography from each speaker can be found in the workshop booklet.


Session 1: Future challenges and opportunities for crop protection 

In the first session, presentations reviewed the key issues currently facing the agriculture sector, such as the impact of reduced pesticide availability on UK crop productivity and the cost and regulatory process involved in developing new crop protection chemicals. The societal context surrounding public perception concerning the acceptability of using certain pesticides was also considered, and how this can influence regulation.

Chair: Robert Edwards, FERA, chair of the IG on Crop Defence for Food and Feed Security

1. Consequences of EU pesticide legislation: an assessment of impact by crop for UK agriculture, Susan Twining, ADAS

2. Drivers and barriers to developing a new crop protection product, Ray Elliott, Syngenta

3. Societal and regulatory influences on agriculture and crop protection, Joyce Tait, Innogen

barley disease


Session 2: New paradigms for chemical control

In the second session, leading researchers in the field described opportunities for "New paradigms for chemical control", including formulation and application technologies for pest management, opportunities for new active discovery from natural products and potential for new uses of agrochemicals to enhance crop yields and activate innate defence mechanisms against pests and pathogens.

Chair: Rosie Bryson, BASF

1. Pesticide application: formulation and targeted application, Clare Butler Ellis, NIAB

2. Potential to develop new crop protection chemicals from natural products, Liam Evans, Hypha Discovery Ltd

3. Novel applications for agrochemicals, Robert Edwards, FERA 



Session 3: Alternative approaches to pest management 

The third session investigated the "Alternative approaches to pest management", with presentations focussing on a variety of topics including green chemical control, opportunities to use biocontrol to manage pests and pathogens, sensor technology and precision agriculture to combat invasive weeds, plant breeding and biotechnology approaches to combat crop losses to pests and parasites.

Chair: Calum Murray, Technology Strategy Board

1. IPM and the role of biological control, Rosemary Collier, Warwick Crop Centre

2. BioPesticide Control - the leading edge, Nigel Back, Barrier Biotech

3. Automated weed mapping in arable fields for precise applications of herbicides, Carl Flint, Masstock Arable

4. Genetic control of pest insects, Neil Morrison, Oxitec Ltd

5. Plant breeding approaches to combat crop pathogens, Sarah Holdgate, RAGT Seeds

6. Plant biotechnology approaches to compact crop pests, Peter Urwin, University of Leeds



These presentations were followed by a breakout session, where workshop participants were given the opportunity to discuss topics relevant to crop protection and to identify new project ideas, with a view towards developing strategic research proposals to help meet future challenges facing food production, set in a context of regulatory change and pressure to increase yields and productivity from agriculture.


Conclusion and next steps

The workshop has brought together a network of technology providers, industrialists, agronomists, and end users that have a common interest in developing new crop protection solutions to benefit agricultural productivity.

The Interest Group in Crop Protection for Food and Feed Security has been established to support this community in a practical way to take forward research ideas towards grant applications in the UK, for example through small meetings to further develop themes or project ideas arising from the workshop that could result in grant proposals to relevant BBSRC or TSB funding initiatives. The Crop Defence Interest Group is keen to support future meetings to promote further links between the research-base and industry to help take new technology developments towards market.

The workshop also highlighted the need for social scientists to work with researchers and industrialists to create an environment where the public are better informed about agricultural products and technologies, such as agrochemicals and plant biotechnology, which have been used to positively impact on food security and biodiversity. We will also investigate opportunities for joint research council funding programmes to develop social science research and outreach strands alongside new technology development.



A report summarising the workshop outcomes have been published and is available through this link.

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