Changes to glyphosate regulations will have little impact on oilseed rape

Changes to the glyphosate spraying regulations, coming into effect this year, will have little or no effect on oilseed rape crop management practises, according to Irish Grain Growers Association Chairman Bob Miller.

As far as we are aware only oilseed rape that is destined for food grade use may not be sprayed using glyphosate, he said.

“Oilseed rape used for feed, which is the majority of the crop grown in Ireland, can still be sprayed off using glyphosate.

“We wish to get this point 100% clarified as it’s very important for those considering sowing the crop.”

However, where other cereal crops are concerned, changes on-label for this year do not allow the blanket spraying of crops with glyphosate for the purposes of desiccation.

“But spraying glyphosate for weed control purposes is still allowed,” said Teagasc’s crops specialist Michael Hennessy.

He estimates that 20% of Irish barley crops are sprayed with glyphosate pre-harvest.

“The equivalent figure for wheat is in the region of 40%,” he said.

Pre-harvest spraying with glyphosate is the most effective way of controlling scotch in tillage ground. And the same principle holds, where thistle is concerned.

Hennessy stressed that glyphosate is a very safe herbicide to use.

“This is universally recognised. In fact, changes to the carrier chemical used in tandem with glyphosate have acted to enhance the safety standards associated with the use of the herbicide.

“All old, less expensive formulations which contain the surfactant tallow amine ethoxylate are now revoked from December 31, 2016 and these can be still sold by retailers until June 31, 2017 and can be used by farmers until June 31, 2018.”

Hennessy said that off-label use of glyphosate in 2017 constitutes a cross compliance-related matter.

“If using old labelled glyphosate products which still have the desiccation use, growers must respect the restriction of using the product for weed control purposes only.”

Last week the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, related the changes to the glyphosate spraying regulations while replying to a parliamentary question.

“While there is a greater necessity for crop desiccation in both the UK and Ireland due to our damp maritime climatic conditions and the practice is proven to be safe, it has been decided to discontinue the practice in cereal crops from 2017 and restrict pre-harvest application of glyphosate to that which is necessary to achieve the control of problematic weeds. This decision will be kept under review.”