SCEPTREplus - Research for sustainable plant protection products for use in horticulture


SummaryManagement of pests, diseases and weeds is a major concern for growers of both edible and ornamental crops in the UK.  The quality of horticultural produce is paramount and even small levels of damage can lead to major losses in marketable yield.  Efforts to protect crops effectively are hampered in many instances by the limited number of control methods available on individual crops, exacerbated by the de-registration of certain pesticide products, limited development budgets in crop protection companies for new products on specialist or minor crops and incidences of resistance to some of the pesticides that are approved.   The future for pest, disease and weed control will require growers to take a true IPM approach and integrate conventional pesticides with biopesticides, cultural methods including using rotations, clean plant material, resistant varieties, pheromone technology, biocontrols and physical controls, making treatment decisions based on accurate diagnostics and pest and disease forecasts.  Crop protection companies continue to produce new actives for use on major world crops which are better targeted and have lower environmental impact and several promising fungicides and insecticides and a few herbicides are in development. However, the number of new actives that become registered for use on horticultural crops is relatively small, largely due to the small size of the market in relation to development costs. Fortunately there has been a significant increase in commercial interest and development of biopesticides and the horticulture industry will require more information on their efficacy, persistence, crop safety and how to integrate them into ‘best practice’ treatment programmes.  
Support from the industry, through AHDB, for applied research into the efficacy and use of both existing and new actives will identify new uses and determine best practice for their deployment to manage different crop/pest combinations in horticultural crops.  It may also identify new application methods or application rates that will help to fill the current gaps in control. Part of the process for new uses of pesticides will be the development of associated residue data packages to obtain Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMUs) via the AHDB funded EAMU (formerly SOLA) programme.
SCEPTREplus will help to address the issues many growers have with regard to crop protection in horticulture. The evidence from industry is clear from the strategic plans and priorities identified by the 6 panels and a number of different grower associations, with crop protection being a key priority. All levy payers are impacted to a certain degree, even those producing organically, as some of the products currently approved for use in organic systems are under threat and alternatives may have to be found; biopesticides present a particular opportunity here.
Benefits to Industry
The sector encompasses a considerable number of diverse crops with very different pressures from weeds, pests and pathogens (including plant viruses), together with more niche challenges such as growth regulation.  Each will present a different economic case.  This depends not only on the amount of crop lost but also on the cost to the company of substituting UK produce with imported product to maintain supply (e.g. importing radish from Holland to replace programmed UK crops that have been lost due to cabbage root fly damage).  Whilst cases have not been worked for every crop, there are some worked examples from the reports which considered the impact of the loss of pesticides as part of the EU review process.  
Firstly there are examples from the study by Wynn (2010) which indicated that under current production methods and available treatments, broad-leaved and grass weeds caused the largest losses in potential yield and quality with an industry value of about £110 million per year (across all crops), with strawberries being the crop most severely affected by weeds (although this is less of an issue now due to the move to tunnel production). Botrytis is the second greatest cause of losses, worth nearly £53 million, mainly affecting strawberries (£33 million) but also impacting on onions, lettuce, raspberries, tomatoes, hardy nursery stock and ornamentals. Weevils are also a problem, causing almost £52 million worth of losses across all sectors, with strawberries (due in part to the high value of the industry) again seeing some of the highest losses (£44 million).  Vine weevil is also causing high losses in hardy nursery stock (estimated at £24 million) (J. Bennison, Pers. Comm. HNS 195). 
Wynn (2010) suggested that in untreated situations, the lack of herbicide control of weeds would drastically increase costs as a result of increased requirements for hand weeding. Weed populations would gradually build up over time and could result in almost complete crop losses as a result of competition decreasing yield, contamination with seeds affecting marketability and difficulties in harvesting. Overall the cost to the industry (across all 15 crops considered) of not using herbicides could exceed £1 billion. If left untreated, pests could have a damaging effect across all crops. Losses from aphids in the absence of pesticides were estimated at £306 million, with lettuce and hardy nursery stock particularly badly affected. It was estimated that fly pests could cost the industry £216 million with the largest losses from cabbage root fly on brassicas (£145 million) followed by carrot fly on carrots (£25.6 million). Foliar diseases could cause significant losses across all crops with botrytis and downy mildew having the largest effects (£192 million and £134 million respectively).
A more recent report for the NFU by Andersons (2014) conducted an analysis of the impact of the loss of active substances that have been deemed to be at a ‘high’ risk of being lost.  This included 10 insecticides, 12 fungicides and 16 herbicides.  They concluded that, for outdoor vegetables, up to 100% of the cropped area would be affected, that yield losses would be in the order of 25-50% and cropped areas would decline by 40-50%.  Impacts on fruit yield might be less but cropped areas might decline by 30%.  In addition, the reduction in product quality is likely to lead to a drop in prices to growers since it is unlikely that retailers (consumers) will be prepared to pay an equivalent amount for a poorer quality product as illustrated by the marketing of “ugly” fruit and veg products. The increased volumes of poor quality produce may also create supply/demand problems for the wholesale and food processing sectors further depressing prices for all growers.
More recently still, an AHDB Workshop on the impact of the 2016 invasion of diamond-back moth on losses to brassica crops indicated that for Brussels sprout crops up to 100% of the crop area was affected and there were up to 40% yield losses in individual crops; for swede up to 100% of the crop area was affected with up to 15% yield losses; and for cabbage up to 80% of the crop area was affected and there were up to 10% yield losses.  This was a situation where control was impacted by insecticide resistance to pyrethroids and where cyazypyr, a new active, trialled in SCEPTRE and recently approved, provided a level of control of diamond-back moth where used as a drench (to control cabbage root fly) and additional control of diamond-back moth as a foliar spray (through an emergency EAMU supported by AHDB).  
The relatively recent arrival of Drosophila suzukii in the UK highlights the actual and potential impact of ‘new’ pests, pathogens and weeds. Economic costs of D. suzukii infestation can be considerable. Kanzawa in 1939 describes losses to cherry crops of up to 75%. In 2008, D. suzukii caused an estimated loss of $511 million to the fruit industry (Bolda et al., 2010), whilst in 2011 losses of cherries of up to 90% to 100% were reported in France and Spain, and a French government hearing quoted a loss of 5,000 Euros per farm for strawberry growers in the Dordogne in 2011 (Sénat 2012).
A Innovate UK-funded project ‘Post-harvest management of plums and cherries to minimise waste’ has the main objective of increasing the profitability of UK cherries by short-term storage to extend the marketing period with potential for exports with the increase in cherry production in particular of late season cultivars in the UK. However, storage has been limited by losses due to fungal rots, especially brown rot (Monilinia spp), Botrytis and Penicillium. Most of this is from infection in the orchard which is not well controlled by current fungicides. So finding better products to control rots would give the opportunity to improve profitability of the expanding cherry production.
Project code:
CP 165
01 April 2017 - 31 March 2021
AHDB Horticulture
AHDB sector cost:
Project leader:


CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP01 weeds carrots CP165_SP01 Y2_Carrot Herbicides_Final Report-1 CP165_SP01 Y3_Late Carrots Herbicides_Final Report-1 CP165_SP01 Y3_Early Carrots Herbicides_Final Report-1 CP165_SP01 Y2_Parsnip Herbicides_Final Report-1 CP165_SP01 Y3_Early Parsnips Herbicides_Final Report-1 CP165_SP01 Y3_Late Parsnips Herbicides_Final Report-1 CP 165_SP 02 Y1 Final report Herb_Drilled Herbs CP165_SP02 Y3_Herbs Pre-Emergence Herbicide_Final Report-1 CP165_SP02 Y3_Herbs Post-Emergence Herbicide_Final Report-1 CP 165_SP02 Y2 Final report Herb_TRANSPLANTED CP 165_SP02 Y2 Final report Herbs Sown 2018_16.05.19 CP 165_SP03 Final report Asparagus beetle CP165_SP04_Field Vegetables Aphids_ Final Report CP 165_SP05_FINAL REPORT Year 1_Onion Thrips_Leeks CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP05 onion thrips in leeks_0 CP165_SP06_Sweetcorn Pre-Emergence Herbicide Final Report CP165_SP06_Sweetcorn Post-Emergence Herbicide Final Report CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP06 weeds sweetcorn CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP07 downy mildew in protected lettuce CP 165_SCEPTREplus_Final report_SP08_ Aphids Peppers CP165_SP09 Y2_Tuta absoluta_Final Report-1 CP 165_SP09 Final Report Tuta absoluta tomato CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP 10 weeds celery CP165_SP10 Y2_Celery Herbicide_Final Report-1 CP 165_SCEPTREplus Final Report SP11 SWD CP165_SP11_SWD_Final Review CP165_SP11 Y2_SWD Part 2 Product Efficacy_Final Report-1 CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP12 weeds two spotted spider mite in tomatoes CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP13 weeds cucurbits CP165_SP13 Courgette Herbicide report_Final Report CP165_SP13 Pumpkin Herbicide pre-em_Final Report CP165_SP13 Pumpkin Herbicide post-em_Final Report CP165_SP13_ Pumpkin_herbicide Final Report CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP14 pythium in cucumber CP 165 SCEPTREplus Final Report SP15 Western Flower Thrips in verbena CP 165_SP15 Y2 WFT_Verbena Final report CP 165_SP16_Stored Cabbage_Botrytis_Final Report CP 165_SceptrePlus Final Report_SP17_Callisto rhubarb CP 165_ Final report Rhubarb Herbicide_SP17 CP 165_SCEPTREplus Final report_SP17_Late Rhubarb CP 165_ Final report Rhubarb Herbicide_SP17_0 CP 165_SP18_Narcissus_post-cropping_final report CP165_SP18_SceptrePlus Report Narcissus post cropping herbicide screen_Final CP165_SP18 SceptrePlus Narcissus Dormant herbicide report Final CP 165_SP18_narcissus_dormant_final report CP 165_SCEPTREplus Final Report SP19 prunus bacterial canker CP165_SP19 prunus bacterial canker_final report CP165_SP20 Y2_Blackcurrant Gall Mite_Final Report CP 165_SCEPTREplus_ Final Report_SP20_Blackcurrant Gall Mite_0 CP 165_SP21 hydroponic lettuce Final Report CP 165 SP22 Bean Seed Fly Review Final 12.11.18 CP165_SP22 Y1_Bean Seed Fly_Final Report-1 CP 165_SP23_Review of control of sciarid and shore flies and potworms protected ornamentals CP165_SP23_Potworm_Orchid_Final_Report CP 165_SP24_ Final Report Nezaraviridula_ProtectedEdibles_Review CP 165_SCEPTREplus Final Report SP25 Lettuce Fusarium CP 165_SP25a Lettuce Fusarium Final Report CP 165_SCEPTREplus_Final Report_SP26_Celery Septoria CP165_SP26 Celery Septoria Final Report November 2020 CP165_SP26_Celery Septoria Seed Treatments_Final Report-1 CP165_SP27 Y2_Cauliflower Pre Plant_Final Report-1 CP165_SP27 Y2_Cauliflower Post planting_Final Report-1 CP165_SP27 Y1_Brassica herbicide_Final Report CP165_SP27_Yr 3 Brassica post-plant herbicide screen_Final Report CP 165_SCEPTREplus Final Report SP28 Leek Herbicide CP 165_SP28_Final Report Salad_onion_Herbicide 2018 CP 165_SP 28 Yr2 Final Report_Bulb and salad_onion_contact herbicide CP 165_SCEPTREplus_Final Report_SP29_ Lettuce Herbicide CP165_SP29 SceptrePlus Report Lettuce Herbicide 2020 Final CP165_SP29_Baby Leaf Spinach Weed Control_Final Report-1 CP165_SP30_Gladioli herbicide_Final Report-1 CP165_SP30 SceptrePlus Sweet Williams herbicide report Final CP165_SP31 Y2_Blackcurrant Contact Herbicides_Final Report-1 CP 165_SCEPTREPlus_Final_Report_SP31 blackcurrant contact CP 165_SCEPTREplus_Final Report_SP31_Blackcurrant Residual CP 165_SCEPTREplus_Final Report_SP31 Blackcurrant Contact CP165_SP31_SceptrePlus_blackcurrant_residual_herbicide_2020_Final_ CP 165_SP33 Downy Mildew crop safety in Ornamentals_Final Report CP165_SP34_Tomato Russet Mite_Final Review Report CP165_SP34_Tomato Russet Mite Laboratory Trial Final Report CP165_SP35 Y1_Parsnip Volunteer potato_Final Report-1 CP165_SP35 Y2_volunteer potato control_Final Report-1 CP 165 _SP35 Volunteer potato control in parsnips 2020 CP 165_SP35 Volunteer potato control in carrots 2020 CP165_SP36 Y2_Lettuce Root Aphid_Final Report-1 CP 165_SCEPTREplus Final Report SP 36 Lettuce Root Aphid CP 165_SP37 Brassica DM final report CP 165_Raspberry_Review_Final_SP38 CP165_SP38 Raspberry and Blackberry leaf midge CP 165_SP39_Capsids_Review CP165_SP39 SCEPTREplus Final Report Capsids in Strawberries Final CP165_SP40_New Tomato Blight Strain_Final Report-1 CP 165_SCEPTREplus_Final Report_SP41_Plum Rust CP165_SP41_Plum Rust_Final Report-1 CP165_SP42 Y1_White Mould and Smoulder in Narcissus_Final Report-1 CP165_SP42_Y2 SCEPTREplus Control of White Mould and Smoulder in Narcissus 2020 CP165_SP43_Leek Rust_Final Report-1 CP165_SP44 Ornamentals Rust_Final Report CP 165_SP45_Narcissus Fusarium Basal Rot_Final Report-1 CP165_SP45 SceptrePlus Report Fusarium Narcissus Final Report CP165_SP46 SceptrePlus Babyleaf Final report CP165_SP47b Protected Ornamentals Powdery Mildew_ Final Report CP165_SP48 Blueberry Gall Midge Review Final CP165_SP49_Pseudococcusviburni Glass House Mealy Bug_Final Review Report-1 CP165_SP49_Pseudococcusviburni_ProtectedEdibles_Review CP165_SP49 Tomato mealybug_Final Report CP165_SP50 Y1_Broad-leaved weed control in Legumes_Final Report-1 CP165_SP 51 SceptrePlus post-harvest weed control in asparagus_Final_Report CP165_SP 51_SceptrePlus Asparagus inter row herbicide screen_Final_Report CP165_SP51_SceptrePlus Report Asparagus pre-harvest herbicide screen Final CP165_SP52_SceptrePlus apple_herbicide_residual_final_ CP165_SP52_SceptrePlus apple_herbicide_contact_final_ CP165_SP53 Growing media and herbicides final CP165_SP54 Onion downy mildew Final Report CP165_SP54_Onion Downy Mildew_Final Report-1 CP165_SP55_Brassica Aphid_Final Report-1 CP165_SP56 Hardy Nusery Stock Aphids_Final Report CP165_SP56 Hardy Nusery Stock Aphids_Final Report CP165_SP57 Kale whitefly_Final Report CP165_SP58 Leafhopper control on Protected and Outdoor Herbs_Final report CP165_SP58 Leaf Hopper in Herbs_Final Review CP165_SP59 Pak Choi Flea beetle_Final Report CP165_SP61 HNS TSSM v2 CP 165_SP62a Cauliflower Rhizoctonia 2021 CP 165_SP62b Leek Fusarium seed treatment report CP 165_SP63a Leek_Pythium 2021 CP165_SP64_Onion Neck Rot_Final Report SP65 Curcubits bacterial disease in squash 20-21 CP165_SP66_SceptrePlus Report_blackcurrant leafspot_Final_ CP165_SP69_ Carrot cavity spot macrocosms_Final report CP 165_SP70 Phytophthora cactorum in strawberry CP 165 SP72 Report Update CP165_SP72_ Carrot cavity spot_pot assay_Final Report

About this project

AimThe aim of the project is to deliver applied research on high priority pest, disease and weed problems in fresh produce and ornamental crops in order to identify effective treatments, support approval of new products and devise and develop IPM programmes.
Objective:  The core objectives of the project are to:
1. Identify key crop protection priorities in horticultural production in the UK to fill pesticide gaps and reduce overall use of synthetic pesticides. 
2. Identify current and pre-commercial pesticides and biopesticides and assess their potential for use on key crop protection priorities in horticultural production in the UK to fill pesticide gaps and reduce overall use of synthetic pesticides. 
3. For disease and pest problems; Design and deliver pesticide and biopesticide efficacy tests on key crop protection priorities (including seed treatments and use in storage situations) in order to identify effective and crop-safe products for potential use in sustainable disease and pest IPM solutions 
4. For disease and pest problems; Design, test and feed into other sustainable IPM programmes that incorporate pesticides and biopesticides identified in this project to fill gaps in control measures and reduce the use of synthetic pesticides 
5. For weed problems; Design and deliver herbicide screening tests with emphasis on non-target crop tolerance, and potentially including residue studies where relevant. 
6. For weed problems; Design and test systems to reduce herbicide usage by more targeted application and/or other methods, and integrate these with current commercial practice.
7. Test novel non-chemical methods for weed control 
8. For any suitable candidates emerging from the objectives 1-6 above, conduct where necessary residue trials for MRL and support other regulatory data generated projects if this is considered a priority by industry representatives and AHDB. EAMU applications for suitable candidates will be carried out by AHDB with assistance from the Consortium and Researchers in terms of producing ‘cases for need’.  
9. Develop clear management and application guidelines and messages (with manufacturers) to optimise use of biopesticides, linking with other biopesticides programmes, such as AMBER (Application and Management of Biopesticides for Efficacy and Reliability). 
10. Communicate with stakeholders and disseminate information.