GENET archive


9-Misc: Syngenta's hybrid barley only sold as seed-pesticide package

genet-news mailing list

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Syngenta ties seed sales to spray
SOURCE: Farmers Weekly, UK, by Andrew Blake
DATE:   May 1, 2003

------------------ archive: ------------------

Syngenta ties seed sales to spray

THE first commercial hybrid barley to hit the market this autumn will be
sold as part of a package of seed, growth regulator and fungicides.
Syngenta's Hybrid Barley System is believed to be the first offering to
growers in the UK to link directly the purchase of seed to pesticides.
The only other occasions where that link has been established are with
seed treatments and genetically modified crops. Syngenta claims yields
will be 1t/ha (0.4t/acre) ahead of the best six-row types. And with a
gross margin lift of nearly 20%, the package should make winter barley
growing worthwhile again, claims the firm's Robert Hiles. "We are moving
low output barley growing back towards profitability." Based on six-row
variety Colossus, formerly NFC 200-57, the hybrid kit's 5ha (12-acre)
modules will include the firm's plant growth regulator Moddus
(trinexapac-ethyl) and the fungicides Amistar (azoxystrobin) and Unix
(cyprodinil). "It offers unique access to hybrid barley technology. We
won't be selling the seed separately from the chemicals," said Mr Hiles.
A key part of the package is the knowledge gleaned from five season's
field research. Colossus, a Recommended List candidate, has a yield
rating of 114% against current controls, he said. The package comes with
specific fungicides, notably Amistar, to guard against the variety's
acknowledged brown rust weakness. But agronomists will continue to have
plenty of flexibility to adjust other inputs like herbicides and
insecticides. "In detail the linked inputs - 5l of Amistar, 1l of Moddus
pgr and 2.5kg of Unix for rhynchosporium control - are seen as
essential," says Mr Hiles. Experience from trials and about 250ha (620
acres) of on-farm focus groups has been used to set the package's sowing
rate of 200 seeds/sq m. Syngenta hopes to have enough hybrid seed
available, through selected distributors, for about 1% of the winter
barley market this autumn. Half the payment will be due after the seed is
delivered and half in the spring.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

SOURCE: Farmers Weekly, UK, Editorial
DATE:   May 9, 2003

------------------ archive: ------------------


What price freedom to farm? Producers' liberty to plan their businesses,
steadily eroded over the years by government and supermarkets, faces
another threat from one of the world's biggest suppliers of seeds and
pesticides. Syngenta's plan to sell its new hybrid barley only in a
package with its own pesticide products will confirm many critics' fears
about farming's future. At worst, such developments, taken to the
extreme, could destroy flexibility and lead to prescription farming.
Companies could dictate product choice, rate and timing of application.
Admittedly Syngenta's scheme leaves growers with some decisions - notably
regarding the use of nitrogen, herbicides and insecticides. But it could
be the first step towards a future when every input and production method
is rigidly controlled from beyond the farm gate. That would reduce
farmers to operatives working to the rules of multi-nationals. Three
powerful arguments spell out the folly of such a future. First, few
people are better placed to understand the land and its potential than
the farmers who work it. Although outside help is not only welcome in an
increasingly technical age but often essential, there are limits which
must be respected.

Second, the linked-product approach could encourage growers to abandon
efficient and responsible crop husbandry in favour of a regime dictated
by the manufacturers' interests. Third, it could leave specialist
suppliers who do not market all inputs vulnerable to others keen to
muscle in on their core business. Horticultural producers are already
familiar with the ever-tightening constraints imposed by supermarkets'
produce buyers. Once sucked into specific input regimes, many find it
impossible to break out without severe financial penalty. However
enticing such schemes may appear, whether they are to the long-term
benefit of UK farmers must remain open to doubt. If the critics are
correct, freedom to farm could become freedom to follow orders.