Information: Forage Maize Seed Treatments for Sowing Spring 2024
Forage maize seed used in the UK is produced and pre-treated in Europe, with an appropriate fungicide to safeguard it against root zone diseases such as seedling blight, and a bird repellent to discourage corvids from taking the seed.
As part of the European Union free market, seed treated with a crop protection product has free movement across Member State boundaries. Now that the UK is no longer a member of the EU, such rules do not apply and, as of 31 December 2023, it will be illegal to import, sell or sow treated seed with Korit (ziram) bird deterrent, Redigo M (prothioconazole + metalaxyl) fungicide and Force (tefluthrin) insecticide, since the products are not licenced by the UK CRD/HSE.
A lack of suitable bird repellent can result in the total loss of the crop. Corvids are intelligent birds and quickly understand seed drilling patterns. In the photograph below, the crows were able to identify which plots were untreated taking almost all of them.
Any attempt to drill the seed deeper to avoid bird damage exacerbates the issue of seedling blight, making application of a fungicide seed treatment such as Redigo M more critical.
Current alternatives include the use of bird scarers, with the accompanying noise pollution, or control of corvids by shooting; neither of which make sense in today’s agriculture.
The danger is that farmers and growers turn away from the growing of forage maize, a high-density nutritious feedstock both for the dairy and livestock sectors, and for the anaerobic digestion industry for energy production.
What are we doing about it?
Limagrain, along with a number of other seed breeders have initiated a working group which has successfully galvanised the NFU, AIC and other parts of the industry into action. Letters to MPs, Select Committees and Ministers have either been sent or are in the process of being sent. Civil servants have been contacted and the media “activated”.
How You could Help
We are keen that as many MPs as possible are aware of this issue:
1. Complete this survey put together by the MGA and NIAB which will give a deeper insight into the issue and who it’s affecting
2. Would you consider writing to your local MP on this subject?
3. Can you raise the problem with their local NFU representatives?
4. Evidence: we are definitely on the hunt for photos of where untreated seed has been planted and anecdotes thereof. Have you seen this problem in action?