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Or read below for a quick introductory summary of the project:
Commercial horticulture covers approximately 166,000 ha, of which approximately 15,000 ha is dedicated to the production of ornamental plants. The farm gate value for ornamental crops is in the region of £0.8 billion per annum, or 30% of horticultural sales (Defra 2011). A key risk horticultural businesses face is the potential damage that can be caused by pests and diseases during production and/or storage. The tolerance for damage in the ornamentals sector is particularly low, given the fact that minuscule levels of cosmetic damage can result in crops being rejected by end users. The loss of pesticides due to changes in EU legislation, coupled with the length of time (and cost) required to bring new products on stream, has created a situation whereby many growers are now either over reliant on a single product for the control of a given pest or disease, or products available to them do not reduce damage below levels which are accepted by the markets. The introduction of risk based assessments has introduced additional pressure for the ornamentals sector due to limitations imposed via re-entry periods for manually handled crops which are coming through as products undergo re-registration.
On-going changes to EU pesticide legislation, greater demand for sustainably produced products and the need to manage resistance in pest and disease populations are all key drivers which necessitate the development of Integrated Crop Management Strategies. Through the recent HDC funded project, Sustainable Crop & Environment Protection – Targeted Research for Edibles (SCEPTRE), a suite of new insecticidal and fungicidal products have demonstrated efficacy against a number of key pests and pathogens of edible crops. The purpose of this work will be to test those pipeline products, among others, against key pests and diseases affecting the ornamental sector (Hardy Nursery Stock, Bulbs & Outdoor Flowers and Protected Ornamental).
The objective of this work is to identify pest and disease control options that:
•Have the potential to control a number of priority pests and diseases identified by the ornamental sector.
•Could be used as part of an integrated pest management strategy
•Have a clearly identified route to market
•Do not adversely affect plant growth/marketability
Additionally, this work should identify improvements in disinfection practices that will contribute to general nursery hygiene. Delivery of these objectives should improve the productivity and competitiveness of the UK horticultural sector. In addition, by virtue of the fact that the research may be used to facilitate the registration of newer, more specific plant protection products, it is expected that outputs will assist growers in their drive to improved environmental standards within their businesses.