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Copper remains as a spraying agent

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

An agricultural machine puts spray on a field.
According to experts, time and resources are still needed to replace copper as a spraying agent. © Pixabay/hpgruesen

Copper may continue to be used as a remedy against fungal diseases. Because replacement is not in sight.

The EU Commission has proposed to the member states to extend the approval for the active substance copper by a further seven years and to limit the permitted quantity to four (previously six) kilograms of copper per hectare and year. This was reported by Eric Liegeois from the Health and Food Safety Department of the European Commission at the third European Conference on Copper at the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI).

Copper indispensable for the time being

At the conference, around 100 scientists, practitioners and consultants from a total of eight countries discussed their experiences in an attempt to reduce the use of the controversial active substance. In conclusion, the JKI wrote: "Particularly in special crops such as fruit and wine growing, vegetables, but also potatoes, neither conventional nor organic farms can for the foreseeable future do without copper as a pesticide. In order to further reduce the use of copper, time and resources are needed for research and development. Only then can solutions from the laboratory be successfully implemented in practice.

Complicated risk assessment

One focus of the event was the question of how the potential risks of copper for humans and the environment can be assessed in a scientifically correct way. The JKI writes that current evaluation methods are geared towards synthetic substances that do not naturally occur in the ecosystem. In the case of a naturally occurring substance such as copper, numerous factors such as the content of soil organic matter, the pH value, the weather, ageing processes or the background concentration present made a comprehensive environmental assessment complicated.


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