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Copper Usage Not Authorised This Year

Cuprokylt not authorised on potato crops

No copper products have been authorised for use on potato crops in the UK this year

Following poor sales last year, Certis - whose product, Cuprokylt (Copper Oxychloride), was the only registered copper product for use as a fungicide in the UK - have not applied for an emergency authorisation for potato blight this year.

The EU has issued a reauthorisation of copper compounds as a fungicide in the agricultural sector, which was due to expire at the end of January, setting the limit at 4kg per hectare per year (reduced from 6kg). It also allows a total application of a maximum 28kg of copper/ha over a period of 7 years (from Feb 2019), with a view to provide flexibility to use more in one year and less in another.

Organic standards still limit use to a maximum of 6kg/ha in any one year for potato crops. However, even with this in place, there's no company prepared to register a product for use on potato blight in the UK at this time. This has left organic potato growers with no recourse to use copper fungicide to prevent blight in their crops this year. 

The uncertainty of Brexit, poor communication and a lack of sector collaboration hasn't helped. There are limited stocks of some blight-resistant varieties available and some management measures that can help minimise the impact and limit the spread of blight once it's in a crop; however, these will not prevent a real impact on crop viability if blight takes hold. Despite the ultimate aim of the Soil Association and organic farmers being no reliance on copper products in future, the latest Europe-wide studies have no viable options to negate any use within the next 5 years.

It's unlikely there'll be anything in place for this season - the uncertainty of Brexit is still looming, with the delay in Brexit date, but there's an opportunity for a product to be authorised within the UK that could be in place for next year. 

HSE have proposed the following ways forward:

  • Submit a full Article 33 application to the UK using the new endpoints supporting the approval recently renewed in January 2019
  • Identify a product that's been renewed in another central zone member state, then submit a mutual recognition application to the UK

For this to be put in place, it needs sector collaboration and commitment by a company to register a copper product in the UK.  


Actions you can take

If you're affected by this and would like to be part of sector discussions to ensure there's something in place for next year, please contact your Certification Officer.