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Arthropod pest control for UK oilseed rape - comparing insecticide efficacies, side effects and alternatives

Zhang, H., Breeze, T., Bailey, A., Garthwaite, D., Harrington, R. and Potts, S. G. (2017) Arthropod pest control for UK oilseed rape - comparing insecticide efficacies, side effects and alternatives. PLoS ONE, 12 (1). e0169475. ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169475


Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) is an important combinable break crop in the UK, which is largely protected from arthropod pests by insecticidal chemicals. Despite ongoing debate regarding the use of neonicotinoids, the dominant seed treatment ingredients used for this crop, there is little publicly available data comparing the efficacy of insecticides in controlling key arthropod pests or comparing the impacts on non-target species and the wider environment. To provide an insight into these matters, a UK-wide expert survey targeting agronomists and entomologists was conducted from March to June 2015. Based on the opinions of 90 respondents, an average of 20% yield loss caused by the key arthropod pests was expected to have occurred in the absence of insecticide treatments. Relatively older chemical groups were perceived to have lower efficacy for target pests than newer ones, partly due to the development of insecticide resistance. Without neonicotinoid seed treatments, a lack of good control for cabbage stem flea beetle was perceived. Wide spectrum foliar insecticide sprays were perceived to have significantly greater negative impacts than seed treatments on users’ health, natural enemies, pollinators, soil and water, and many foliar active ingredients have had potential risks for non-target arthropod species in UK oilseed rape fields for the past 25 years. Overall, 72% of respondents opposed the neonicotinoid restriction, while 10% supported it. Opposition and support of the restriction were largely based on concerns for pollinators and the wider environment, highlighting the uncertainty over the side effects of neonicotinoid use. More people from the government and research institutes leaned towards neutrality over the issue, compared to those directly involved in growing the crop. Neonicotinoid restriction was expected to result in greater effort and expenditure on pest control and lower production (0–1 t/ha less). Alternatives for future oilseed rape protection were then discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:68737
Publisher:Public Library of Science


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