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International news in brief – July/August 2018

| August 14, 2018
  • Bayer appeals verdict on neonicotinoids

Bayer plans to appeal against the recent ruling of the General Court of the European Union in Case T-429/13. The company is concerned that the verdict, announced in May, could have far-reaching consequences for the certainty and predictability of active substance approvals in the European Union (EU). By appealing against the verdict, Bayer aims to ensure that some general interpretations of the crop protection law established by the court are reconsidered. These interpretations may have importance beyond this particular case, and Bayer believes they are not legally founded.

The company says it wishes to underline that it respects the European legislative process and accepts the recent decision of the EU Member States to broadly restrict the use of certain neonicotinoids in agriculture. Consequently, the company has withdrawn the clothianidin dossier from the ongoing renewal process.

Bayer stands by the safety of its products – which have been approved by regulatory bodies around the globe – and reiterates the value that neonicotinoids have for farmers in managing pests effectively.

  • Farm to Tap scheme launches to support improved water quality

The UK’s Severn Trent water company, based in the Midlands, has launched a “Farm to Tap” scheme, offering farmers financial rewards and support for reducing levels of metaldehyde in their water sources.

Doug Mccowan, Woodlands Farm and Ben Young, Severn Trent

Farmers in a ‘Drinking Water Safeguard Zone’, or in the Severn Trent priority catchments, are eligible to sign up to the scheme, which offers up to £8 per hectare for reducing metaldehyde levels found in local surface water sources.

Severn Trent catchment management and biodiversity lead, Dr Jodie Rettino, explains why eligible farmers should sign up. “Metaldehyde is extremely difficult to remove from water once it’s there, and the cost to do so is significant. Metaldehyde is a vital product for slug control on farms, yet it could be banned if efforts aren’t made to reduce the risk of the active substance reaching water courses.”

“To prevent this, we need to work with farmers at the source and support them in reducing metaldehyde use. One way is by switching to ferric phosphate, which is where signing up to Farm to Tap can help by providing the support, resources and advice farmers need to make that switch.”

Alongside the financial support, every farmer that signs up will be assisted by their local Severn Trent Agricultural Advisors – experts who will work with them to develop the best solutions for their farm.

Additional bonuses are available and every farmer that successfully registers before 31st August will be eligible for a £25 early bird bonus.

“At Severn Trent, we have an ambition to be environmental leaders and find sustainable solutions to water source issues. If we solve these issues at source, rather than putting in expensive and environmentally damaging new treatment, we can ultimately deliver a sustainable solution that is cheaper for all our customers,” concludes Dr Rettino

To find out the full terms and conditions of the scheme, and to sign up to Farm to Tap, farmers should email farming4water@severntrent.co.uk

  • Right pellet, right time

Hard on the heels of Severn Trent encouraging farmers to reduce levels of metaldehyde in drinking water comes Adama urging arable growers to make every slug pellet count this season by applying the right pellet at the right time and at the right dose. In doing so, the crop protection company hopes growers can minimise the impact of key molluscicide active ingredient metaldehyde on drinking water quality and environmental diversity.

“Our ongoing commitment to promoting the responsible use of agrochemicals and reducing the threat of key active ingredients being lost means we’re asking growers to think carefully about how and when they apply slug pellets,” explains Andy Bailey, Adama’s Fungicide and Molluscicide Technical Specialist. “That means ensuring all spreading equipment is properly maintained and calibrated before pellets are applied.”

To enable accurate spreader calibration without the use of live slug baiting pellets, Adama is giving away a limited number of 5kg bags of placebo pellets which are a perfect copy of the company’s own metaldehyde based slug pellets.

“Whilst these dummy pellets perfectly replicate the ballistic characteristics of products such as Gusto 3, Carakol and Enzo, they don’t contain any active ingredient,” Andy continues. “Since we launched this year’s pellet giveaway a month ago we’ve had such an overwhelmingly positive response that we’ve decided to order a second batch which growers can apply for by visiting our website.”

Being precise in terms of slug pellet applications also comes down to pellet quality, as Andy explains. “The key to effective and sustainable slug control is to use a bait which not only offers high mortality rates, but which is also highly palatable, and which retains its integrity over a long period of time, even in persistently wet conditions.”

Ensuring that the right pellet is applied at the right time and right dose requires that the latest best-practice stewardship guidelines are followed. “Essentially this means minimising the risk to water and wildlife by preventing pellets from landing within 10 metres of any field boundary, hedge or watercourse, using the minimum dose to avoid drainage and run-off losses, and not applying when heavy rainfall is forecast or if field drains are flowing,” Andy continues.

“By considering factors such as soil type, humidity, soil moisture, temperature, cultivation method, wind and current and previous crops, our SlugAware app (which is free and available to download) predicts a low, medium or high threat of slug activity in a given 24 to 72-hour period.

“With this information to hand, growers can make better informed crop protection decisions, thereby ensuring key active ingredients, such as metaldehyde, are only ever applied at the right time and thus reducing the risk of these chemicals being lost from the crop protection armoury due to regulatory pressures,” Andy concludes.

  • Biodegradable deterrent

Traditional insecticides not only kill pests, they may also endanger bees and other beneficial insects as well as affect biodiversity in soils, lakes, rivers and seas. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now developed an alternative; a biodegradable agent that they claim keeps pests at bay without poisoning them.

“It’s not just about the bees, it’s about the survival of humanity,” says Professor Thomas Brück, who heads the Werner Siemens Chair of Synthetic Biotechnology at TU Munich. “Without the bees that pollinate a wide variety of plants, not only would our supermarket shelves be quite bare, but within a short time, it would no longer be possible to supply the world’s population with food.”

Brück and his team have now found an alternative. The insect repellent they have developed is biodegradable and ecologically harmless. Sprayed on plants, it works much like mosquito repellent used by bathers in the summer, spreading a smell that keeps away unwanted insects.

“With our approach, we are opening the door to a fundamental change in crop protection,” says Brück. “Instead of spraying poison, which inevitably also endangers useful species, we deliberately merely aggravate the pests.”

The Munich researchers were inspired by the tobacco plant, which produces cembratrienol, CBTol for short, in its leaves. The plant uses this molecule to protect itself from pests.

Using synthetic biotechnology tools, Professor Brück’s team isolated the sections of the tobacco plant genome responsible for the formation of the CBTol molecules. They then built these into the genome of bacteria. Fed with wheat bran, a by-product from grain mills, the genetically modified bacteria now produce the desired active agent.

“The key challenge during production was to separate the active ingredients from the nutrient solution at the end of the process,” explains Mirjana Minceva, Professor of Biothermodynamics at the TUM Weihenstephan Campus.

The solution was centrifugal separation chromatography, a highly efficient process that works equally well on an industrial scale, but which hitherto had never been used to separate products from fermentation processes.

Initial investigations indicate that the CBTol spray is non-toxic to insects, yet still protects against aphids. Since it is biodegradable, it does not accumulate.

In addition, the bioactivity tests showed that cembratrienol has an antibacterial effect on gram-positive bacteria. It can thus be used as a disinfectant spray that acts specifically against pathogens such as   Staphylococcus aureus   (MRSA pathogen),   Streptococcus pneumoniae   (pneumonia pathogen) or   Listeria monocytogenes   (listeriosis pathogen).

  • Growth of family owned company

Plastdiversity, an independent family owned Portuguese industrial company, has extended its facilities by another 5,400 square metres in Marinha das Ondas, Portugal. The company is owned by Isabel & Moisés Francisco, it was established just over 20 years ago and now has over 40 employees.

Isabel, Moises & Ana Francisco

Plastdiversity has three diverse but linked business sectors, recycling of plastic waste, pest control products and home and garden products.

Within the pest control sector, the company carries out research, development and manufacture of bait stations, mouse traps and glue boards. Within the home and garden sector it makes a range of products including plastic buckets, door mats and car mats.

The idea of Plastdiversity entering the world of Pest Control first arose 18 years ago. Ana Francisco (daughter of Isabel & Moisés) explained how one day her father Moises was visiting a friend working in the food industry who suggested to him he might be interested in making the plastic bait boxes all around his facility. Moisés saw the potential but had no experience of pest control and knew nothing about bait stations. Then, one Sunday lunchtime Marcelo’s five-year-old brother was eating an ice cream from a container shaped like a pirate’s treasure box. Moisés saw this ice cream container and immediately came up with the first bait station – the BORA BAIT Station – and the rest is history!

The celebrations around the opening of the new facility started with a welcoming cocktail party on the evening of 15th June at the hotel in Figueira da Foz City. The grand opening of the new facility was on the 16th June and 202 guests attended; it was an evening of fine food, wine and entertainment and an enjoyable time was had by all.

Invited guests included local dignitaries of Marinha das Ondas, customers, suppliers, press and employees. There was representation from Poland, India, Jordan, Israel, Singapore, France, Germany, Romania, USA, UK, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and, of course, Portugal.

Plastdiversity had out-grown its old facility. Growth in its customer base, growth in employee numbers and increasing demand for its products led to the decision to invest in the construction of a new building. This new building houses all the production activities for plastic products – of which the largest demand is for pest control. Investment in new plastic injection machines and new robotic machinery has been made which will improve the production rate. This will also mean that several products (bait stations, snap traps etc) can be produced at the same time increasing overall production efficiency. The new building also has ample space to hold more raw material and finished product storage and has been designed with further company growth in mind.

  • Award for innovation

In recent years farmers have been facing the prospect of losing some of their crop due to an inability to control pests using traditional methods. Increasing pesticide resistance as well as consumer demand for produce free of pesticide residues have fuelled the need for alternative ways to protect and nurture plants. For over thirty years, North Wales-based manufacturer Russell IPM has been developing novel strategies for pest management by employing insects’ natural behaviour thereby reducing the reliance on chemical insecticides.

This approach is behind the company’s growth strategy based on continued spending on research and development. It won the company its first Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2012 for developing novel control strategies against Tuta absoluta, an invasive moth pest that destroys tomato crops. The award-winning system combined the use of fungal pathogens with pheromone attraction and trapping to achieve complete control in several documented cases. A similar approach fed into the system designed against Fall Army worm, which has been wreaking havoc in maize crops in Africa for over a year.

Three years ago, Russell IPM started testing a unique colour wavelength for a sticky roll with microencapsulated pheromones in the adhesive layer for trapping Western flower thrips. The results in strawberry crops in the UK have been outstanding, saving growers time and money. For this product, Russell IPM was awarded its second Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2018.

Exciting future additions to the product portfolio are a number of smart technologies that will be field-tested this year, for the remote sensing of pest activities, climatic factors and soil humidity, helping farmers to make the right decision at the right time. Among other benefits, smart technologies can predict and give early warning of potential disasters such as migrating pests.

Managing Director Dr Al-Zaidi said of the accolade: “Besides being an attestation to Russell IPM’s successes, the Queen’s Award for Innovation 2018 further motivates our teams to redouble their efforts to deliver new and better solutions to improving and protecting food quality from farm to fork.”

  • Golzper and Micron Alliance

Goizper and Micron have announced an alliance between the two groups of companies with over 120 years’ experience in the development of spraying equipment. Goizper Group is a specialist in hand-held and pressure sprayers (offering the well-known Matabi, Osatu, Inter and IK brands).

Micron Group has specialised in low volume application equipment, having invented and developed the use of rotary atomisers for Controlled Droplet Application for portable, vehicle mounted and aerial equipment (under the Micron and Micronair brand names).

Both Goizper and Micron will retain their identity, with no significant change in organisation or commercial policies. The companies claim the new alliance will offer advanced spraying equipment for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, garden, industrial, migrant pest and public and animal health applications worldwide – from robust sprayers to help millions of smallholder farmers in the developing countries boost crop yields and protect their health against malaria and other vector borne diseases, to precision farming and aerial spraying systems for large scale agriculture, as well as covering specialised industrial and garden uses.

The combined range of products and the greater resources of the new alliance should further boost the ability of both companies to build on their past success and further develop application equipment to meet the future needs of growers, users and regulators worldwide for ever greater safety and efficiency in application with both companies involved in long term R&D programs and development of International Standards.

  • Rollins buys Aardwolf Pestkare

Rollins, Inc., a global consumer and commercial services company, today announced that it has purchased the stock of Aardwolf Pestkare (Singapore) Pte Ltd. The acquisition closed today and is Rollins’ first company-owned operation in Singapore.

Established in 1997, Aardwolf Pestkare is a pest control company with a history of providing pest control and specialty services to residential and commercial customers. Founders John Ho and Patrick Chong said, “It has taken three years for us to find a company that shares the same business philosophy as we do. We are proud to be working with Rollins.” Patrick Chong will stay on with the company as Managing Director.

Gary W. Rollins, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rollins stated, “The Aardwolf Pestkare acquisition is an important milestone and expands our global presence into 54 countries worldwide. Both Rollins, Inc. and Aardwolf Pestkare share a commitment to quality service and care for our employees. Further, we are pleased that Patrick will remain in a leadership role and look forward to sharing best practices between our organizations.”

  • First Antivectorial Congress

The world’s first Antivectorial Congress for Public Health will take place this year in Foz do Iguaçu – Brazil, from November 20th to 22nd. The event includes presentations by international experts in public health, with a focus on tropical diseases, along with the products, equipment, services and solutions for vector control. The event is aimed at an audience of national and international governmental agencies, researchers, students, entrepreneurs as well as manufacturers of products, equipment and new technologies.

It is expected to bring together 1,400 people for the three days of the event, which will include presentations of case studies for the control of tropical diseases, as well as vector control projects in Brazil and from around the world. The format will include presentation panels and should help consolidate information about new technologies which have been found to be effective.

In the New Technologies section, the event will have management and georeferencing software companies, automated visit records, monitoring of endemic diseases programs, training and educational companies, and social mobilization. In Products, it is planned to cover application technologies, resistance to insecticides, traps and monitoring equipment, indexing collection as well as transgenic and modified mosquitoes.

In addition, the Congress will feature the “Antivectorial Fair”, where there will be institutional and company stands of organisations interested in sharing information about their experiences, products and services to the event delegates.

  • Fifth largest Agchem company?

Platform Specialty Products Corporation has agreed to sell Arysta LifeScience (“Arysta”), its Agricultural Solutions segment, to UPL Corporation Ltd for $4.2 billion in cash. This transaction will also mark the culmination of a separation process announced by Platform in August 2017. In the five years since its founding, Platform has built two distinct, high-quality speciality chemicals companies with leadership positions in attractive end-markets. These two businesses operate separately and are of sufficient scale and quality to stand alone. It was in that context that Platform pursued this separation.

The deal will create a new company which is expected to be the fifth largest crop protection company in the world. Together UPL and Arysta will form a new solution-oriented company with complete offerings in a wide range of crops. The transaction is expected to close in late 2018 or early 2019.

Arysta has developed under Platform’s ownership, growing to global scale through a series of complementary acquisitions, doubling the peak sales value potential of its R&D pipeline, focusing the business on high value speciality applications and developing a world-class team. UPL, one of the fastest growing companies in the market today, is a supplier and producer of crop protection products. UPL was founded in 1969 and has evolved from its origins as an Indian contract manufacturer of agrochemicals to a successful multinational with a wide portfolio of branded products.

With the complementary combination of UPL’s world-class active ingredient manufacturing competence and Arysta’s innovative R&D engine and technology partnerships, the new company will be in the position to provide growers with complete, competitive and differentiated solutions, thereby becoming a “one-stop-shop” supplier to customers in key agricultural markets. Furthermore, the combined business will boost its market access, strengthening distribution networks and reaching millions of farmers in more than 100 countries.

Platform’s Chief Executive Officer Rakesh Sachdev said, “The combination of Arysta and UPL, two remarkably complementary companies, will create a new paradigm in the crop protection market with an efficient supply chain and formulation innovation capabilities. This new company is positioned to provide strong local customer solutions around the world with selling presences for broad acre and niche crops, supplemented by a leading bio-solutions business. With its scale and capabilities, we believe the combined companies will represent a compelling value proposition for growers, distributors, suppliers and innovation partners in a consolidating market.”

Sachdev continued, “Arysta grew and matured immensely during our period of ownership through acquisitions, integrations and investment. This is a terrific company with robust global sales and innovation capabilities, proven products and world-class talent. We are thankful for what Arysta accomplished during its time as a part of Platform and for the efforts of its team around the world.”

Jai Shroff, CEO of UPL, said, “Arysta has unparalleled expertise in developing tailored, specialized local applications and complements our diversified crop-protection and post-harvest solutions. Together, as ‘New UPL’, we can fulfill our mission to be the premier global provider of total crop solutions designed to secure the world’s long-term food supply.”

Diego Lopez Casanello, President of Arysta, said, “Today’s announcement is a huge vote of confidence in Arysta and its team. Both businesses are greatly complementary. The scale and capabilities of the new company will generate significant value for growers, distributors and innovation partners. This transaction marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter.”

  • And Finally…Darwin’s ‘Champion of England’ pea saved

An endangered species of pea grown by Charles Darwin in the mid 1800s and mentioned in his book “The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication”, has been saved from extinction by horticultural charity, Garden Organic, and its network of green-fingered ‘Seed Guardians’.

The so-called ‘Champion of England’ pea has now been registered on the National List by a seed supplier, meaning it can be sold commercially and enjoyed all over the world after its future was threatened decades ago.

The news has been met with celebrations from Garden Organic and its team of volunteer seed savers who are members of its Heritage Seed Library, an initiative set up by the charity’s founder Lawrence Hills in 1975.

Despite being judged as ‘best pea’ by The Journal of Horticulture in 1876 and being grown by Darwin himself in his garden, the variety fell out of favour in the 1970s when mechanised harvesting took over. The seed companies chose not to register Champion of England for commercial sale, putting it at risk of dying out completely.

Thankfully, Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library and its team of volunteer Seed Guardians have continued to grow endangered vegetables including Champion of England pea giving it the chance to be listed once more.

Rachel Crow, HSL Information Officer at Garden Organic, said: “For us, the ultimate accolade is for a seed company to say, ‘Yes, this is a good pea and let’s get it back into circulation so even more people have the chance to grow it!’ ’’

Rachel continued, “It’s a real thrill to see how our Heritage Seed Library is continuing to play a vital role in the preservation of our country’s genetic resource. We couldn’t do the work we do without our fantastic volunteer seed guardians who grow varieties with a low risk of cross-pollination and return the seed to us. This helps us to achieve Garden Organic’s wider ambition of protecting and sharing a wide plant gene pool and bringing organic gardening to more people across the country.”

Long serving seed guardian, Adam Alexander, who has helped to save the Champion of England pea and sixty other HSL varieties, said: “I think the Heritage Seed Library is the jewel in the crown of Garden Organic. It is incredibly important because it helps to secure the genetic diversity of our food and preserve that crucial link culturally and socially with what has been grown in the past.”
Champion of England will soon be available through The Organic Gardening Catalogue, www.organiccatalogue.com.

Published in International Pest Control – July/August 2018 issue

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Category: International Pest News, news in brief

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