No derogation for deter as ‘low-standard’ non-EU imports continue

The failure to grant a derogation for the use of Redigo Deter seed dressing – which contains the neonicotinoid clothianidin – on cereal crops has been described as “yet another severe blow for Irish tillage farmers” by Mark Browne – the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) grain committee chairman.

In a statement to AgriLand, the IFA noted it had requested a derogation from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, for the product “due to its role in the control of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV)”.

According to the IFA, research from Teagasc has concluded that BYDV has previously caused yield losses of up to 3.7t/ha in winter barley and 1.2t/ha in winter wheat in Ireland. In monetary terms, this would reduce margins by €555/ha and €192/ha respectively in both barley and wheat.

Browne stated that there was already precedence for granting a derogation for the product within the EU, as Belgium, Denmark and Poland were granted derogations for the use of Redigo Deter in 2019.

The Irish tillage sector has lost a number of key active ingredients including the fungicide chlorothalonil.

Browne continued: “The failure to grant a derogation for Redigo Deter will further jeopardise the viability of Irish cereal crop production, which is already down over 50,000ha since 2012.”

In its statement, the IFA said: “The failure of the minister to support the sector on this issue will further erode the ability of Irish farmers to compete against feed imports from other EU and particularly third countries, which produce grains under lower environmental standards.”

The IFA noted the importation of almost 500,000t of mostly GM corn from Brazil alone in the past two years.

This grain is produced under a regime which allows the use of pesticides banned in Ireland, along with widespread deforestation.

The grain chairman concluded by saying that the “acceptance of different standards at an Irish and EU level for native and imported grains cannot continue to be tolerated”.

“It is hypocritical of the Irish Government to increase the regulatory burden on local cereal producers, forcing them out of production, while allowing increased access to non-EU feedstuffs produced to a lower standard.”

About the ban

The product, which contains clothianidin, was banned in the EU – for outdoor use along with two other neonicotinoid products – in April 2018.

A study published by the European Food Safety Authority led the commission to consider the potential risk these products could have on wild pollinators and honey bees when they are on non-flowering crops.

In 2018, 70% of winter barley seed was treated with Redigo Deter.

Effect on Irish farms

The seed treatment provided protection against BYDV for six to eight weeks after planting, meaning that farmers who planted in October would often not need a follow-up insecticide as cold weather would naturally keep aphids away from crops.

The effect of BYDV is most heavily felt in coastal areas, which may be warmer during the winter. Using the seed treatment gave farmers good control and flexibility as they were not dependent on suitable spraying conditions to apply an aphicide.

Results from Teagasc trials have shown BYDV infection levels of 39% where no seed treatment was used in Co. Cork, compared to 3% where the seed treatment was used.

Symptoms in spring crops

Anyone who looked at spring barley crops in May and June may have noticed a lot of yellow leaves in crops. This is BYDV infection and a sign of the reduced effect from current chemistry used in spring crops which do not have access to neonicotinoids.

BYDV infection reduces the amount of green leaf area in a plant, which in turn can reduce yield. The infection can also stunt the crop’s growth.