First registration of a sustainable agrichemical for the SFF minor crops project

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A new sustainable agrichemical that controls the leafroller pest on New Zealand’s blueberry crops is the first of many registered products to be released as part of a Government lead Sustainable Farming Fund project.

The Minor Crops project team coordinated by Horticulture NZ announced the recent registration of the insecticide ‘Prodigy™’ by Dow AgroSciences for use on blueberries (trademark of the Dow Chemical Company (Dow) or an affiliated company of Dow).

This is the first product to be registered as a result of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) project ‘Registration of sustainable agrichemicals for minor crops’.

“The project brings together 12 grower product groups from across horticulture, agrichemical companies and MPI who together have invested over $1 million to help streamline registration of agrichemicals for minor crops,” says Debbie Morris, Director ACVM, Ministry for Primary Industries.

“The majority of crops produced in NZ are considered minor by chemical companies and due to low levels of chemical sales they do not justify the cost of specific registration trials. There is a real need to assist growers to ensure they have sustainable chemicals to allow continued growth and production of a range of fruit and vegetables,” she says.

The SFF project was set up to assist in developing and refining current policy to make registration of products more efficient, less costly and more achievable for growers of minor crops. Products trialled are reduced risk compounds and this allows growers to reduce reliance on older, less environmentally friendly agricultural chemicals and provides alternatives to compounds being removed from the market. The registration of label claims allows informed use with label directions providing rates, timings and withholding periods.

Dan Peach, Chairperson of Blueberries NZ says he is extremely pleased growers have access to new chemistry and the option to use more sustainable products.

“This opens the door for new export opportunities and helps to ensure we continue to supply a high quality product to our consumers”.

While Blueberry growers in general use very few insecticides, in times when they are required to produce high quality fruit, industries preference is to use low risk, targeted compounds.

"It is great to have made this step forward as this project continues to gain momentum more registrations for minor fruit and vegetable crops are expected by the end of the year. This will result in positive outcomes for growers of minor crops." Mr Peach said.

The combined annual value of the minor crop groups involved is over $665m (2012 Freshfacts). The project began in July 2011 and will be completed in June 2014.

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