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Challenges and Perspectives in Global Rapeseed Production
(Press Release)

Together with external experts and with financial support from the Thünen Institute, the agri benchmark Cash Crop Network has published a report on the challenges and perspectives of rapeseed production in Germany, France, Poland, UK, Australia and Canada.  Respective results have been discussed at the International Rapeseed Congress (IRC) 2019, which was hosted by the German Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants.

In all the European countries, the viability of rapeseed was being put under serious threat by a combination of the fast-increase of pesticide-resistant insect pests, especially in the years since the neonics ban, and increasingly challenging climate conditions that, together, have contributed reduced yields. The report contains a comprehensive overview over all the cropping issues across the board, as well as respective alternatives to current methods.   

With a shrinking list of active ingredients to combat the issues, and growing insecticide resistance, farmers are increasingly taking more radical integrated steps to reduce the pest burden, including widening rotations, or in extreme circumstances, giving up rapeseed altogether.

Alternatives to rapeseed often low performing in Europe (Click for more content)

At the same time, analysis from typical agri benchmark farm data indicates that other broad leaf crops that could replace rapeseed perform rather poorly in economic terms: Rapeseed yields need to drop by over 20% below 2016-18 average levels for the most likely competitor crop to be more profitable. A lower share of rapeseed in the rotation would therefore lead to reduced farm profits, although retaining rapeseed shares at historic levels is no longer an option for many farmers, as yield losses of that magnitude or more are being experienced.

Interestingly, agri benchmark data reveal that both in Canada as well as in Australia, the on-farm competitiveness of rapeseed is much poorer. Alternative crops would be more profitable than rapeseed if yields were to drop by 10% or more.

Zoning trials and green corridors as a way forward (Click for more content)

The panel at the IRC also explored policy measures to support rapeseed production. One option is to undertake a large-scale zoning trial, whereby rapeseed would be completely withdrawn for several years. Thereby, the effect of wider rotations and a tighter re-infection control could be assessed.

Furthermore, the panel suggested to broadly test the so-called “green corridors” concept, suggested by the Canola Council of Canada: Is it possible to support predator insects through the establishment of specific biotopes, where those beneficial insects can eat and breed?

Collaborative action and exchange are needed globally (Click for more content)

Tom Arthey, project coordinator for agri benchmark, explained “the study provides a first step into understanding the shared challenges faced by European producers, and what the economic impact would be if rapeseed disappeared from our production systems. More collaborative work needs to be done to develop strategies to overcome the challenges. Whilst Europe is at the forefront of the issue, it was also clear from our Australian and Canadian partners that resistance issues were also a growing problem there too.”

Opens external link in new windowRaps unter Druck - besonders in Europa
Pflanzenbaulich Herausforderungen nehmen zu / Gemeinsame globale Plattform angeregt (Press Release in German)

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