Integrated pest management and challenging the status quo

“In a rapidly changing technological, economical, and political farming environment, those working within the industry are going to have to challenge the status quo.” This was the take home message from the recent annual Agronomists’ Induction held on 24 – 25 October 2018 near Peterborough.

New intake agronomists explored their role through a combination of presentations and interactive workshops across arable, horticulture, legumes and pulses. Delegates learnt how they will play a role in integrating research and practice across integrated farm management, crop performance and protection, and growing resilient, efficient and thriving soils.

Agronomists' Induction2018

Farmers need to have the best advice in order to make good, strong decisions. As an industry we need to prepare for the challenges that we will face in the future by undertaking research and development with a focus increasingly on an integrated pest management approach. According to Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF), integrated pest management “offers a toolbox of techniques that can be tailored to different cropping systems, climatic conditions, pest pressures and availability of solutions.”

We are getting fewer and fewer actives through onto the market: the toolbox is shrinking and the cost of developing a new agrochemical is increasing. In 1995, the total cost was approximately $152 million, and now it is around $286 million. A large proportion of that cost is associated with delivering the environmental assessment, and coupled with resistance, legislation, and changing weather patterns, an integrated approach to pest management is critical.

There are many threats and opportunities for agricultural business, and risk is inevitable because businesses operate in a changing environment which creates uncertainty. However, in the words of Bob Iger: “the riskiest think we can do is maintain the status quo.”

So, how can agronomists challenge the status quo? Brian Barker, AHDB strategic farmer, advises agronomists against going along for the easy ride. Take a step back and have a moment to think whether you can offer growers a different way? Challenge the way that you have always done it by asking:

  • Can I save time, fuel and money?
  • Can I afford not to do it?
  • How will it impact the cost of production?
  • Does it fit the cropping long-term?

Brian said: “You will be challenged, you will not always agree, but you need to be adaptable, knowledgeable and pragmatic. Your work together reflects on both your businesses, so have patience and enjoy it.”



Emily Smith

Emily Smith