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How Fruitfed Supplies' R&D trials support product stewardship

How Fruitfed Supplies' R&D trials support product stewardship

How Fruitfed Supplies' R&D trials support product stewardship

For the Fruitfed Supplies Technical team, the term product stewardship means considering how a product’s composition, and its application in the field, contribute to maximising its useful life while minimising its impact on the environment.

Kevin Manning, Fruitfed Supplies’ Technical Manager, says product stewardship forms an important part of the product trials conducted by the Research and Development (R&D) team. Last year, 59 trials across all crop sector groups were conducted on a range of products including plant growth regulators, agrichemicals, mineral oils, biostimulants and biopesticides. The trials evaluate how a product performs in local conditions and its suitability within a crop protection programme.

With a product trialled over multiple seasons, the data collected provides a thorough understanding of the conditions, application timings, rates and methods in which the product performs optimally while leaving minimal effects on the environment.

“The information gathered from our trials helps us understand the features of a product; its strengths and weaknesses, and its impact on the local environment, including beneficial insects. With integrated pest management systems now commonplace, softer chemistries, biostimulants and biopesticides support beneficial insects and parasite populations, which in turn, help control insect pests and contribute to resistance management - both elements of product stewardship,” says Kevin.

Complementing the work of the Technical team in product stewardship, the Fruitfed Supplies Crop Monitoring team contribute to the longevity and efficient use of products used within a crop protection programme. Forming a vital component of an integrated pest management programme, crop monitoring scouts are in paddocks and on-orchard recording pest and disease levels, identifying when thresholds are met so growers can then make informed decisions on control measures, only applying a spray when it is required.  

To promote product stewardship to the wider Fruitfed Supplies team and provide valuable insights into the most effective and appropriate way of using a product within a crop protection programme, the Fruitfed Supplies Technical Extension Team provides training to Technical Horticultural Representatives (THRs) and store teams. This training includes sharing trial results on products newly registered for use in New Zealand and covers important information such as application timings, and how the product fits within a spray programme. From there, this knowledge can be passed on to growers giving them greater flexibility and choice around the products they can use.