An emergency application by NFU Scotland (NFUS) for the short-term use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos has been rejected by the Chemicals Regulations Directorate (CRD).
According to the union the decision means farmers have been left with no economic means of controlling damaging leather-jacket craneflies on grassland.
Plant protection products (PPP) like Dursban WG and Equity, which contained the active substance chlorpyrifos, have been widely used by farmers for decades to control a wide range of pests in grassland, arable crops, vegetables and soft fruit.
The products helped control pests such as aphids, caterpillars, wheat bulb fly and leather-jackets. But in February CRD announced that products containing chlorpyrifos would be revoked.
The announcement meant that from April 1 it was illegal to sell, distribute or use products containing chlorpyrifos except under very limited circumstances.
After receiving reports of serious leather-jacket damage, NFUS worked with other farmers unions and Dow Agrochemicals to submit an application for a 120-day emergency authorisation of Equity, a PPP containing chlorpyrifos to control leather-jackets on new-sown leys and established grassland this autumn.
CRD has now notified the union that it has rejected its application.
NFUS vice-president, Andrew McCornick said he was bitterly disappointed.
“The toolkit for grassland farmers and crofters, as well as others affected by pests previously controlled with chlorpyrifos, is empty,” he said. “We had sought limited and controlled access to chlorpyrifos with robust safeguards for human health. Unfortunately, CRD, despite recently stating the product posed no risk to human health, has denied farmers and crofters access to it. The union is already aware of impacts from the loss of chlorpyrifos on farms and crofts across Scotland. As a matter of urgency we will explore new options and seek support from both the Scottish and UK governments.”