By David Jones, CropNuts BroadAcre Agronomist

On Friday 27th April the European Union voted to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in all outdoor crops. Although this may seem a distant concern here in Africa, the impact could be far reaching..

European neonicotinoids ban

What is likely to happen here?

This will all depend on how the regulatory authority (Pest Control Products Board, PCPB) views the risks to pollinators and other insects, and could largely depend on forthcoming studies into Bee behaviour. Exports to European countries could well be impacted as food retailers demand equivalency of growing standards.

How will it affect us?

Buyers of Canola are likely to insist upon crops grown to the standards of their local consumers, which would mean no neonicotinoid seed dressings such as Deter and Cruiser.

Flea Beetle are likely to be a concern in untreated canola seed, which would mean more sprays in the early establish stages. What we don’t know is how widespread pyrethroid resistance is in the Flea Beetle population. This was dismissed in Europe until seed dressings were banned and they very quickly realised that products such as deltamethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin were largely ineffective.

The second concern would be Turnip Yellows Virus spread by Aphids which can often go undetected and result in a 10-20% yield loss. The Green Peach aphid has been shown to be totally resistant to pyrethroids and pirimicarb in our own trials, leaving just sulfoxaflor which is not currently approved for use in Canola.

European Union neonicotinoids ban

If Synthetic Pyrethroids are found to be ineffective this to me would be the most serious implication as very few suitable active substances are currently available for brassica crops – flonicamid being one of the few that has activity on virus spreading aphids, but is of little use on Flea Beetle.

In Europe Pymetrozine, currently not available here, is the only suitable insecticide for pyrethroid resistant Flea Beetle.

What are the implications if the ban extends to cereals and maize?

This previously seemed unthinkable, but this is now the reality in some of the world’s most productive cereal growing land across Europe.

Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus and Russian Wheat Aphid would be serious threats that would require several interventions of Pirimicarb and synthetic pyrethroids.

European Union neonicotinoids ban

Protecting maize from early aphid borne viruses such as Maize Chlorotic Mottle and Leaf Streak as well as early Fall Armworm and Cutworm would be a serious challenge, especially if systemic foliar neonicotenoids such as thiamethoxam, imidacloprid and acetamiprid based chemicals were withdrawn.

All of the above may seem slightly implausible for us here in Kenya, but given how quickly the situation changed in Europe we should be prepared to react to the loss of this important group of chemistry.

Till next time,

Happy farming!


About David


David Jones is the Broad Acre Specialist at Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd. (CROPNUTS). David has a keen interest in soils and no till farming systems where he has undertaken work looking into weed levels and changes in soil structure, and has extensive experience in field trials and in the development of precision farming techniques. In his spare time he enjoys playing rugby.