A Challenge to Ontario Farmers: 100+ Neonic Strip Trials Needed for 2014!

If farmers want continued access to neonicotinoid seed treatments, they’re going to have to do two things: one, practice a series of beneficial management practices to minimize dusting off at planting; and, two, participate in strip trials of insecticide-treated and non-insecticide-treated corn and soybean seed in 2014.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture cereal specialist, Peter Johnson, pulled no punches at the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association annual general meeting held this week at London, Ont., when he challenged farmers to participate in the strip trials. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is in the process of a full review of neonicotinoid products for corn and soybean crops, prompted by concerns over bee health in relation to the products. Johnson challenged farmers at the AGM to be leaders in showing the PMRA that farmers can adapt to the change in production practice required (click here for the PMRA list of BMPs), and that the industry can generate enough data points to support the value of these products to the industry.

Two key BMPs are the use of an approved lubricating agent in vacuum planters and adding fan exhaust deflector kits to planters. Farmers at the AGM (and on Twitter) seemed eager to incorporate the use of Bayer CropScience’s Fluency vacuum planter lubricant into their planting routine, but there’s some concern over access to deflector kits being available from all manufacturers. Of note, John Deere has kits but they are currently only available in Europe, and Case IH has not yet announced options for their planters. Kinze and Monosem already have kits available.

Johnson’s call to action centered more around the need for farmer participation in strip trials in 2014. What’s necessary is at least 100 strip trials, 100 each for both soy and corn, where farmers plant a non-neonic treated strip and a treated strip, to fully evaluate, with current data, the value of the neonic treatments. This data is being asked for by the PMRA.

Tracey Baute and Art Schaafsma released their findings this week on the issue of dusting off and its impact on bee health, and their findings are consistent with the recommended BMPs. That said, Baute and Schaafsma also stressed the importance of having more data for 2014 and the importance of farmers participating in data generation regarding the value and safety of these products.

For the full report on the 2013 neonic/bee health project, headed up by Tracey Baute and Art Schaafsma, click here: 2013 Corn Planter Dust Research Study Results.

Farmers are encouraged and challenged to contact their OSCIA county rep or OMAF representative to participate in the trials. There are still details to work out, such as where the non-neonic seed will come from, however, the pressure is on — if farmers want to maintain access to neonicotinoid seed treatments they simply must follow the BMPs and participate in the strip trials for 2014. Farmers should also note that once fields have been selected, they’ll need to contact Jocelyn Smith at UGRC via email at: [email protected].

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