Insecticide removals would hit crops hard

Seed and cereal farmers face a major risk to their productivity and profitability from the removal of organophosphate insecticides from the market.

Current control practices used by farmers, particularly during crop establishment rely heavily on organophosphates which are currently the subject of a review and re-regulation by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Organophosphate insecticides are used by farmers to control grass grub, one of the country's most destructive plant pests.

The cost of crop failure ranges from $4000-$15,000 per hectare depending on the crop species, while low numbers of grass grub can cost up to $400 per hectare in grass and cereal crops, the Foundation for Arable Research project manager Mike Parker told farmers at the organisation's recent annual crop expo in Chertsey.

Mr Parker has led the charge to make submissions to the EPA on behalf of FAR on the revocation of organophosphate insecticides.

"All agrichemicals are going through the process of re-registration through the EPA," he said.

He understood that the EPA would turn their focus to fungicides and then herbicides once the review on insecticides was complete.

He believed he may have convinced the EPA to delay the removal of diazinon for a decade. This chemical is the major compound in agrichemicals such as Dew 600, Digrub and Basudin.

"They have come up with perhaps a 10 year lifespan for diazinon.

"The bad news is that this still has to go to the [EPA] governing committee."

The EPA has recommended a five and three-year phaseout period for other chemicals such as methamidophos and phorate.

Mr Parker said there were no guaranteed outcomes and the costs to the arable industry would be significant if farmers lost their ability to use these chemicals.

"The EPA doesn't understand the arable industry and it's part of my job to make them understand," he said.

The Timaru Herald