About SCEPTREplus


About SCEPTREplus

Aims & objectives

What does SCEPTREplus means for growers

Structure of programme



About SCEPTREplus


SCEPTREplus is a four year programme of work funded by AHDB to £1.4 million with financial and in-kind support from agrochemical and biopesticide manufacturers.


It builds on the work carried out in the original SCEPTRE programme which ran from 2010 to 2014 testing a number of fungicides, insecticides and herbicides on vegetable, fruit and protected edible crops as well as the recently completed MOPS project which covered crop protection work in ornamentals.  The project is designed to respond to emerging crop protection issues as well as looking at longer term future issues helping provide solutions for growers.


SCEPTREplus research programme includes work on chemical, biological and physical crop protection methods.  Novel products as well as existing ones being used in a different way such as changes to application methods or timings will be considered.  Work on physical control started in the original SCEPTRE project will also be carried out, for example electric weeding.


It will link with other crop protection programmes of work already underway for example HNS 198: To improve weed control in hardy nursery stock production. FV 446 Leeks: white tip control (Phytophthora porri) and the IPM programmes of work being conducted in soft fruit and tree fruit.  This is to prevent duplication and where relevant to learn from work being conducted in these programmes that could be beneficial for other crop sectors.


The project consortium is chaired by Ed Moorhouse (Agri-Food Solutions Director) and includes RSK ADAS, NIAB EMR, Stockbridge Technology Centre and the University of Warwick.  There is also the ability within the project to include other subcontractors to ensure the project uses the most relevant expertise and is cost effective in delivering solutions to growers.


Aims & objectives

Our aim: 

To deliver applied research on high priority disease, pest and weed problems in fresh produce and ornamental crops in order to support approval of products and devise and develop IPM programmes


What does SCEPTREplus hope to achieve?

  • Reduce any adverse environmental impacts of crop protection products – SCEPTREplus will focus on new chemistry and non-chemical approaches with improved environmental profiles. Providing growers with access to this new chemistry will reduce the overall adverse environmental impact from the crop protection programme


  • Provide new biological and integrated control techniques – due to the high level of regulation for crop protection products in the UK/EU, the shift to safer crop protection products, including biopesticides, should minimise any possible negative environmental impacts of the older established products


  • Reduce supply chain vulnerability – the introduction of new crop protection products and strategies will address risks to the supply chain by increasing the number of options for growers to manage current and future challenges, thereby improving the resilience of UK supply chains and underpinning opportunities to develop export markets.


What does SCEPTREplus means for growers?


SCEPTREplus will help speed up the process of testing and bringing new products to market, so that growers are better equipped to manage pest, weed and disease control within their businesses.


Growers face significant challenges to protect their crops due to a reduction in available plant protection products as a result of:

  • Limited number of control methods available on individual crops

  • Deregistration of pesticide products

  • Limited development budgets in crop protection companies for new products on specialist or minor crops

  • Incidences of resistance to pesticides


The process to secure EAMU approvals on new products is complex and includes collection of residues data, provision of a supporting case, and the completion and submission of applications to the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD). SCEPTREplus aims to generate new products to market thorugh the AHDB Horticulture-funded EAMU programme, representing the whole industry, so that indiviudal growers don’t have to submit products themselves.


We are keen to hear from growers throughout the programme of work and we are keen for growers to get in touch with us so that we can respond to industry need. If you have any comments for us about SCEPTREplus, or are keen to find out more, please use our contact form to get in touch. 


Structure of programme


The project consortium led by Agri-Food Solutions consists of NIAB-EMR, RSK ADAS, Stockbridge Technology Centre and the University of Warwick.


Trials test new chemical and biopesticide products for efficacy on a range of crops, pests, weeds and diseases. The project also incorporates other efficacy work within the project where existing actives are tested on different crops.


Actives showing sufficient levels of efficacy will then be taken forward within the programme and the necessary residue trials undertaken to deliver an EAMU for growers.


Dr Rosemary Collier, science lead for SCEPTREplus, said: “Some crop protection issues are common to several sectors. For example, downy mildew, while generally host-specific, affects a wide range of protected and outdoor edible and ornamental crops and there is considerable merit in adopting a functional or generic approach to evaluating the efficacy of products and undertaking crop safety screening trials.”


In addition to chemical and biopesticide trials, best practice approaches, improving pesticide application and looking at innovative technologies will also be part of the crop protection trials.


The targets for SCEPTREplus were agreed using AHDB's gap analysis which was conducted in 2016, as well as through consulation with sector panels and grower associations. 


Key targets for 2017 were: 







Downy Mildew

Western Flower Thrips


Powdery Mildew

Spotted Winged Drosophila

A range of annual and perennial weeds in a number of different cropping situations





Bacterial Canker

Two Spotted Spider Mite


Leaf Mould

Tomato Russet Mite



Asparagus Beetle


Pythium root and foot rot

Tuta absoluta





Key targets for 2018 are: 




Bean seed fly – legumes

Fat-hen, redshank, charlock, fumitory - Brassicas

Lettuce Fusarium wilt

Capsids – celery, soft fruit, tree fruit

Broadleaf weeds and grasses – leeks & onions, field-grown cut flowers

Fungal diseases, including downy mildew and botrytis – ornamentals, ferns

Tomato russet mite

Groundsel – lettuce, outdoor leafy salad, baby leaf

Celery septoria

Pot worm, shore flies, sciarids – orchids

Bindweed, nightshade, grasses - blackcurrant

Plum rust

Raspberry cane midge



Blackberry leaf midge



Nezara viridula (Southern green stink bug) - cucumber




There is flexibility in the project structure to allow trial changes from year to year depending on the outcome of results from the previous year, allowing for any emergency situations that arise or inclusion of new products as and when they become available for testing. In 2018 trials have responded to the first UK outbreak of lettuce Fusarium wilt, a new strain identified of tomato blight in early 2018 and lettuce root aphid treatments following the withdrawal of neonic seed treatments. 


Funding for SCEPTREplus


SCEPTREplus has been funded by AHDB to £1.4 million, with financial and in-kind support from agrochemical and biopesticide manufacturers. 

Funding contributions by AHDB Horticulture was agreed by the individual crop sector boards. 

AHDB Horticulture sector funding splits