Research and Development
The majority of CropLife SA's supplier members develop new products, some of which may be international companies developing new chemistry or new biologicals while local companies develop new products based on existing chemistry and biologicals. Research into new combinations of existing chemicals often result in innovative pesticides that are marketed to address difficult pest issues such as invasive cactus species eradication with new combinations to replace harsh chemicals such as monosodium methylarsonate.
New adjuvants are developed to make applications more effective by preventing drift, sticking active ingredients to plant surfaces and making formulations safer to handle. There are at least 4,000 field trials commissioned annually to test new products and the costs of these run into hundreds of millions of Rands. There is a significant shift towards more environmentally compatible pesticides and slowly disinvesting in highly hazardous chemistry.
CropLife International’s video “Research and Development in Plant Science” shows the complex, lengthy and resource intensive R&D process from finding the right chemical compound to extensive safety testing of the final product and beyond. The video gives an insight into the huge number of people and the enormous amount of time and resources necessary today to bring even a single product to the market.
Click here to see the video.
- The aim of R&D programmes is to develop new products, as well as improving the activity and safety of older products through improved formulation, packaging and delivery.
- Crop protection is one of the most research-intensive industries globally.
- R&D activity enables our industry to innovate, which creates jobs and contributes to economic growth while enabling even safer and more effective products to be launched.
The goal of the industry’s research and development programmes is to improve the range and quality of its crop protection products. These advances include both the refinement of existing products and the development of new products and applications.
Over the last five years the value of R&D expenditure on conventional chemical crop protection products and seeds and traits by the 15 leading companies in the agrochemical sector has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% raising the level of R&D expenditure from $4,533 million in 2007 to a total of $6,728 million in 2012 (Phillips McDougall, April 2013).
All companies are working to create new products or reformulate older products so that they are biologically efficient, environmentally sound, user-friendly and economically viable.
A new crop protection product takes ten years and approximately $250 million to develop (from discovery to first sales); on average around 25%, and as much as 40%, of the cost, is on researching non–target (including mammalian) toxicology, environmental fate and impacts.
Further details of the plant science industry’s research and development programs for crop protection products can be found in a report available here. A brochure on Research & Development is available here.
The majority of pesticides sold in South Africa are locally formulated using imported technical materials. The manufacturing and formulation plants are operated by professional scientists and engineers to deliver high quality products for the agricultural and public health sectors.
- Responsible manufacturing of crop protection products is an integral part of our industry’s stewardship programmes.
- Plant science companies aim to protect both their employees and the environment to the fullest extent possible.
- As well as meeting statutory requirements following industry best practice, companies take part in a number of voluntary schemes, including Responsible Care®
Manufacturing of crop protection products is done with a view to protecting both employees and the environment. The chemical industry, from which much of the modern plant science industry evolved, has always had a good safety record. Naturally, all regulatory standards are complied with, but the industry commonly takes its responsibilities further and takes part in voluntary initiatives. In addition to assuring the safety of workers, significant improvements have been made in the reduction of waste streams and carbon dioxide emissions.
Through the adoption of good manufacturing practices, the industry aims to protect its neighbours, its employees and the environment. National and international standards are strictly adhered to, and international standards are adopted (ISO 14000 and 9000 in particular).
We also subscribe to a number of government-sponsored voluntary standards and other industry-led schemes, in particular, Responsible Care®. Responsible Care® is a programme developed in the late 1970s by the chemical industry to assist companies in improving their environmental, health and safety performance. Participating companies are required to report on performance in a range of areas, including manufacturing.
Responsible manufacturing management systems cover the following main elements:
- Plant & Process Safety
- Pollution Prevention
- Employee Health & Safety
- Emergency Response & Community Awareness
- Product Stewardship
- Quality Management
- Contamination Prevention
- Risk Assessment, Reporting & Auditing
Steady progress has been made in terms of manufacturing efficiency and reduction of environmental impact. For example, since the 1990s there have been:
- improvements in energy efficiency of between 11% and 37%
- reductions of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production of 2%–76%
- improvements in water use efficiencies (use of water per unit of production) of up to 40%
- reductions in waste generated per unit of production in the range of 25%–63%
CropLife has produced a number of guidelines to reduce risk to human health and the environment through the adoption of best practices, including to prevent contamination of products (available here).
Storage, Transportation and Distribution
CropLife SA has developed guidelines for members to acquaint themselves with the compliance issues around warehousing, storage and transportation of pesticides. Most members use the services of registered and licensed dangerous goods transport companies while others have their own fleets of certified vehicles and drivers. Pesticide stores at distribution and agent levels are built according to the SA National Standard 10206 for safe use and storage of pesticides.
- CropLife South Africa supports the establishment and enforcement of an appropriate regulatory environment with regard to the storage, transport and distribution of crop protection products.
- Voluntary stewardship initiatives complement this regulatory regime and the activities in countries are tailored to the local needs.
- Training programmes for retailers are actively supported.
- The plant science industry recommends using CRISTAL – Communicating Reliable Information Systems To Agriculture and Logistics – as a common practice to ensure traceability throughout the supply chain. See an implementation guide here and common practices for the use of barcodes and labelling of products here.
Crop protection products need to be handled safely to ensure the protection of the environment and safety of workers. In addition, the provision of misleading or inadequate information during distribution and marketing may also pose a risk to the environment and human health by allowing these products to be used in inappropriate ways. In the case of storage, these guidelines and standards address, for example:
- the location of warehousing facilities away from houses, schools and shopping areas
- facilities for easy loading together with access for emergency vehicles
- non–combustible and heat–resistant construction materials
- flooring that is impervious to liquids
For transport, guidelines cover the preparation, loading and unloading of the goods and their subsequent carriage. It is vital that there is effective planning and management of all of these functions if the possibility of an accident taking place is to be minimised. Additionally, in the event of an accident, instruction and emergency plans are in place to rapidly address the incident directly or advise those that are dealing with it. Guidelines for transport of crop protection products are available here and for warehousing here. A leaflet on Storage, Transportation and Distribution is available here.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management or IPM, as it is commonly known, is a system of managing pests which is designed to be sustainable. IPM involves using the best combination of cultural, biological and chemical measures for particular circumstances, including plant biotechnology as appropriate. This provides the most cost-effective, environmentally sound and socially acceptable method of managing diseases, insects, weeds and other pests in agriculture. The plant science industry has endorsed IPM practices for many years and has publicly declared its commitment to promoting IPM. IPM is a flexible approach which makes the best use of all available technologies to manage pest problems effectively and safely. IPM strategies consist of three basic components (please see the latest video on IPM here)
- Prevention of pest build–up through the use of appropriate crop cultivation methods
- Observation of the crop to monitor pest levels, as well as the levels of natural control mechanisms, such as beneficial insects, in order to make the correct decision on the need for control measures
- Intervention where control measures are needed
An elementary principle of effective IPM is to develop pest control strategies that take into account all relevant control tactics and locally available methods and, are sensitive to the local environment and social needs. The successful use of IPM will evaluate the potential cost-effectiveness of each alternative as well as the whole control strategy. See the infographic on IPM here. Elements that can be included in an IPM program are summarized in the figure below.
IPM principles are included in industry training programmes for farmers and other stakeholders across the world. A number of training and information documents have been produced to support these programmes, including a web-based training programme aglearn.net which has modules on IPM principles, cotton IPM, rice IPM and vegetable IPM. Ultimately, development and adoption of IPM strategies require mutual support and collaboration from a range of stakeholders, including government and non-government organisations, international research organisations, distributors, dealers and retailers, and producers themselves. Further information on IPM can be downloaded as a leaflet here and as a brochure here. Case studies are available here, and an IPM training manual is available here.
The majority of CropLife SA's supplier and distribution members offer basic training to clients and farm workers on responsible use based on a module developed by CropLife SA. An advanced responsible use training module is also available for members to train their own staff and agrochemical agents. One of the best examples of a responsible use stewardship initiative is that of Arysta LifeScience who invested over R3 million in a training programme for small scale farmers in the Eastern Cape under the name Galela Kakuhle. A trainer and assistant are working full time in the Eastern Cape and train farmers daily.
- CropLife, along with its regional and national associations and leading companies, has promoted programmes providing training in the responsible use of crop protection products for more than 20 years.
- Training is given in the context of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy.
- A number of guidelines and web-based training materials have been produced.
- Messages in the responsible use of crop protection products reach many millions each year through various media campaigns.
The plant science industry is committed to promoting practices that encourage the responsible, safe and efficient use of its products. This is undertaken within the context of promoting an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy and forms an important part of the industry’s life-cycle approach to product stewardship.
There are two new manuals for use of the network: the Responsible Use Manual and the Retailer Manual.
Responsible Use of Crop Protection Products – The Future
The responsible and effective use of crop protection products continues to be an issue that is extremely important to the industry.
We will continue to support training activities on the responsible use of crop protection products, within the framework of an Integrated Pest Management strategy.
We recognise, however, that it is not possible for one group alone to reach all farmers and stakeholders and that training and extension programmes need to be undertaken in partnership with others and be aimed at achieving sustainable changes in behaviour.
Collaboration with governments and their agencies, national and international organisations, NGOs, donor agencies, the agricultural distribution chain, to name but a few, is vital to the future successes in improving impact and outreach.
CropLife SA has a well structured empty container management system with collectors and recyclers that have been vetted and approved as reliable and ethical operators. They assist farmers by redeeming triple-rinsed empty plastic pesticide containers and recycling the containers into other valuable plastic commodities.
All CropLife SA approved service providers issue farmers with a Certificate of Adequate Disposal that export producers require for their GlobalGAP certification. More than 62% of empty containers are collected and recycled through the effective services of the 45+ CropLife SA approved collectors and recyclers.
CropLife International has recognised CropLife South Africa as the one of the top ten countries in the world in terms of effective container management. CropLife SA is also in negotiations with recyclers to start collecting and recycling woven polypropylene bags that are used for some of the granular formulations and chemically treated seed.
The plant science industry is taking the lead to ensure the development, use and appropriate disposal or recycling of crop protection containers are managed sustainably to protect both farmer health and the environment.
There are over 50 established container management programmes operating in countries around the world, in addition to a large number of pilot programmes. These have been developed over a 20–year period and are often run in partnership between industry and government. The goals of these programs include:
- protecting both the environment and the operator from exposure
- appropriate treatment and safe disposal of used packaging
- reducing waste and maximising recycling
- ensuring compliance with local packaging requirements and legislation
Triple-rinsing empty containers is the recommended method promoted by the global CropLife network. Triple-rinsing containers with water can remove 99.99% or more of product residue. Similar results can be achieved with integrated pressure rinsing using specialised equipment incorporated in some modern spray application equipment. Containers that are rinsed as described above should be regarded as non–hazardous as described here.
Click here to download the triple-rinse brochure, which communicates the three key steps of triple rinsing. CropLife South Africa encourages the use of this brochure to help educate farmers about preparing empty containers for collection and recycling. A poster is also available to purchase from CropLife SA. If you are interested, kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org to place your order.
Management and Disposal of Obsolete Stocks
Since 1990, the plant science industry has been working in a variety of countries to facilitate safe disposal projects. Facilitation has involved finding additional donor funding, organising projects, supervising operations in the field or, when appropriate, reconditioning usable stocks. Such projects typically last for 2–3 years.
Between 1991 and 2003, the crop protection industry participated in over 25 multi-stakeholder projects in 20 countries, in collaboration with over 30 organisations, leading to the safe disposal of an estimated 3,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides.
From 2003, CropLife International collaborated with other partners to implement the Africa Stockpiles Program (ASP), which sought to safely dispose of obsolete pesticide stocks and associated waste across Africa. By 2018 an estimated 9,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides will have been destroyed – see below.
Following the end of the ASP, CropLife International has continued to partner with organizations such as FAO and the World Bank to eliminate obsolete stocks on a country–by–country basis.
Additionally, since the 1990s, another 15,000 tonnes were collected and destroyed in OECD countries by CropLife national associations, in partnership with local governments and others.
In South Africa, CropLife SA, along with some of its members, drive a waste management programme nationally to ensure producers are able to dispose of empty pesticide containers in a safe and easy manner.
A list of resources has been created to assist anyone who wants to get involved:
Agricultural production has historically endured huge losses to pests and disease, and many methods of pest control have limited life spans — pests adapt or evolve resistance, which can reduce the long–term utility of control methods. Insect and herbicide resistance management are challenges that all farmers must face — resistance is not unique to plant biotechnology, though biotech crops do bring some unique considerations which must be addressed by technology providers and farmers.
Similar to all stewardship programs, resistance management practices require a diversity of tools, and must evolve and be flexible. Local agricultural conditions will help define what types of resistance management programs are needed, and they must be continuously reviewed and reconsidered. Click on the relevant sections below to read more.
Fungicide Resistance Management
Fungicides are chemicals that can inhibit the growth or development of fungal pathogens. They are important tools that farmers use proactively to protect and maintain plant health, quality and yield.
Certain species of fungi can become resistant to fungicides. This not only diminishes the fungicide’s long–term effectiveness but can reduce the amount of food brought to market.
CropLife South Africa has a regional specialist working group, the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC), comprising of industry experts to provide fungicide resistance management guidelines in the South African landscape.
Below is a list of useful documents and links related to fungicide resistance:
Herbicide Resistance Management
Herbicides are essential tools used by farmers to protect crop yields and quality by controlling weeds that compete with plants for nutrients, sunlight, space and water.
Herbicides allow farmers to control weeds and preserve their crop’s yield and quality. If farmers rely too heavily on one type of herbicide, however, weeds can naturally adapt and become resistant.
CropLife South Africa has a regional specialist technical working group, the Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC), comprising of industry experts, with the objective to promote the correct and responsible use of herbicides, to monitor new herbicide resistance cases in South Africa, to develop integrated management strategies for herbicide-resistant weeds and to provide and disseminate information about weed resistance.
Below is a list of useful documents and links related to herbicide resistance:
Insecticide Resistance Management
Insecticides are valuable tools used by farmers that can contribute to efficient food production because they control invertebrates that reduce a crop’s yield and quality.
While insecticides are among the most effective tools for controlling pest populations, all farmers are challenged by the fact that every insect control method has a limited life span because pests naturally evolve and become resistant.
CropLife South Africa has a regional specialist technical working group, the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC), comprising of industry experts to facilitate communication and education on insecticide resistance and to promote the development of resistance management strategies so as to maintain efficacy and to support sustainable agriculture and improved public health in the South African landscape.
Below is a list of useful documents and links related to insecticide resistance:
Rodenticide Resistance Management
Rodenticides are valuable tools used by farmers and pest management professionals to protect human and animal health from rodents, which can spread disease and destroy food crops and property.
Fifty years of research shows that the use of anticoagulant rodenticides, which prevent blood clotting, is the most effective method for controlling rodent infestations. The continued use of the same rodenticides can lead to the development of resistance in some rodent species. 1
CropLife South Africa has a regional specialist working group, the Rodenticide Resistance Action Committee (RRAC), comprising of industry experts to develop an understanding of resistance and resistance management in order to maintain the effectiveness of currently available rodenticides in the South African landscape.
Below is a list of useful documents and links related to rodenticide resistance: