Chemical inputs can be one of the biggest costs for arable farms, but sticking to your usual products might not be the most cost-effective way to do business. Farmers on Yagro switching to like-for-like generic products are saving as much as 50% on their chemical bills. Are these products any good though?
In our last 'Agri Mythbuster' blog we examined some of the myths surrounding generic crop protection products, learning that independent trials have shown that generic products can be just as good as their branded equivalents, but it's all about doing your research.
Not sure how to identify which alternative products might be worth trying? Here are 7 tips to help you find generic crop protection products that work.
1. Ask an agronomist
Agronomists should have plenty of knowledge about products and whether there are any suitable alternatives on the market. Ask them for their opinion on formulations to find out if they might be as good for you and your farm as a top-named product.
2. Ask your neighbours
Have a chat to other farmers in your area - they’ll all have their own ideas on what works best for them on their farm, and they might just have a generic gem hidden in their armoury. You won’t find out until you ask them.
3. Use social media
Tools like Twitter, Facebook and online farming forums can all be useful in finding out what has worked for other growers. There are lots of farmers, agronomists and industry experts using websites like Twitter, so all you have to do is search for them and read what they’re saying. Using hashtags (tags which can help you search for specific subjects) such as #ClubHectare, #arablefarming and #agrichat can help you identify people to chat to and conversations you might want to join in with.
4. Check out the label
A common issue with generic products is the formulation of the product. It’s well worth looking closely at exactly what it is it in terms of the total dose of active ingredient, as well as other aspects of the formulation. If the label doesn’t make things clear, then contact the manufacturer or the supplier to see if they can offer more detail on a product’s ingredients.
5. Watch out for any restrictions
It’s always worth considering what restrictions there are on generic products, as they may differ to those for non-generics. For example there may be different limits on the maximum number of applications per crop each season or differences in which crop it’s approved for use on. Alternative products might also have different suitable tank mix partners, including potential antagonisms with other chemicals. Breaching label restrictions risks a heft penalty in terms of lost single payment, so it’s important to check.
6. Compare it with other products
Many products have a lot of extras in the formulation which help with things like rain-fastness, lead adhesion and plant uptake. These might not be in all generic products, which may affect performance - even if the amount of active ingredient is the same.
7. Check out trials
One of the best ways to know how well something works without testing it yourself is to look at independent or regulatory trials which compare generic products with others. Take a look at AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds’ website and others for independent guides and research.