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Confidence in control for ornamentals

Syngenta launches Ornamental Controls, dedicated to supporting UK growers with their pest, disease and plant growth management, through a comprehensive range of products and R&D-based expertise.

An ever-diminishing choice of control products, few of which were specifically designed for ornamental plants in the first place, may have left growers thinking their crops came low down the list of priorities when it comes to crop protection. But now they can look forward to more plant protection products and an increased level of technical support with the UK launch this season of Ornamental Controls, part of the world-leading agribusiness Syngenta that’s fully dedicated to the ornamentals sector.

The company is already close to introducing the first in a range of new products, an insecticide formulated specifically for ornamentals. But just as important is its ethos of working closely with growers and other industry partners to better understand the unique control challenges facing the ornamentals sector. “All growers are facing tighter regulations and pressures on availability and use of control products,” says Ornamental Controls UK business manager Daniel Lightfoot.

“That’s compounded for growers of bedding and pot plants, nursery stock and cut flowers with the market’s demand for crops that are clearly in perfect health and which match tightly defined specifications. Anti-resistance strategies, compatibility with integrated pest management (IPM) and short re-entry times are also increasingly important.”

Syngenta has an amazingly broad and innovative range of control options as well as unrivalled expertise in application technology, he says. “But we also know just how innovative UK growers are, and how much knowledge lies in the hands of our partners who help us market our products. With Ornamental Controls in the UK we want to collaborate with growers and our partners to tailor control solutions for the ornamentals sector.”

It’s not just about new products – though Daniel says there are some exciting ones on the way. It will also be about new ways of making the combined knowledge and expertise of Syngenta and its partners available to growers. “We have a wealth of technical expertise around Europe which we can call on but of course, the UK market is unique and it is also important we understand it very well as everything we do here will be UK focused – that’s why we are taking a collaborative approach,” he adds.

“We have begun working in this way with growers in some other parts of Europe and in North America too, so UK growers will be able to benefit from what we have learned there.” Glenn Kirby, UK technical manager for Ornamental Controls, says he’s looking forward to tapping into ‘the largest product and knowledge pipeline in the industry’ to help UK ornamentals growers improve their control regimes. “Syngenta spends around 8% of its turnover on R&D,” he points out. “As well as discovering new active ingredients and developing new formulations it’s also about building a really good understanding of the way our products work, through thousands of trials generating really robust data over many seasons. “That enables us to feed the best possible advice through to growers, for example on how to get the best results from using a product and how to prolong our products’ useful life through good resistance management.”

Ornamental Controls can call on the combined knowledge generated by some 150 R&D sites around the world, including in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands and in North America. But the UK is home to the company’s largest, the world-famous Jealott’s Hill in Berkshire, which has been in continuous operation for more than 90 years. It plays a central role in work on new active ingredients, the development of new formulation technologies, ensuring product safety and providing technical support based on a thorough understanding of how each product works. As well as some of the most advanced laboratory facilities in the world, the site features a 4,000 sq m research greenhouse and a 260 ha trials farm.

“What all this adds up to for growers is confidence,” says Daniel. “We are the only business fully dedicated to crop protection for the ornamentals sector that can offer a global range of products combined with local technical support – we believe that’s what sets us apart from other crop protection product manufacturers. We’re aiming right across the ornamental flowers and plants market with a comprehensive range of products targeting all major sucking and chewing pests, mites, nematodes, fungi – especially mildews and botrytis – and soil diseases, as well as plant growth regulation. That means we can tailor effective, reliable programmes with IPM and resistance management in mind; and provide expert knowledge and advice.”

Key to Ornamental Controls’ approach in the UK will be its collaborative partnership with supply company Fargro, which has been exclusive distributor for Syngenta’s ornamentals products for a number of years.

“Fargro is so much more than just a product distributor,” says Daniel. “It is a recognised authority in IPM and ornamentals crop protection and its technical specialists have day-to-day contact with growers. They have forged a close relationship with many of these businesses over years so really understand their needs.

“We’ll be working alongside Fargro’s team to offer growers not only a comprehensive range of control products but the expertise on how to get the best results from them. Growers can be confident they will have a direct line to experts.”

Fargro technical director Joshua Burnstone says ornamentals growers will benefit from the complementary expertise the partnership brings to the industry: “Our team of IPM specialists are all BASIS qualified and most have had experience as growers themselves. They can talk to growers in detail about how to integrate Ornamental Controls products into their programmes and how to avoid resistance risks, for example.

“In turn we are supported by Syngenta’s R&D and by the long pipeline of innovative new controls, including those not yet in the UK. We have our own trials programme too, so we’ll be working closely with Syngenta to identify those relevant to the industry here that growers will want to use, and to explore how to get the best from them under typical UK nursery conditions.”

The future will also see new kinds of technical support. “We’re going to be investing heavily in web-based help for growers with advice on control options and how to use them effectively, based on our latest R&D in applications and nozzle technology for example,” says Daniel.

“It’s about a whole package of support.”