By Tom Collins
WOODSTOCK — A Western Ontario farmer who will become a certified crop advisor next month already has a list of 30 customers who want to hire him to scout for pests on their farms so they can continue to use neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds. He could be the province’s only crop advisor focusing on neonics, a pesticide coating on seeds.
The province’s phased-in neonic ban means farmers wanting to use neonics in Lambton, Middlesex and Wellington counties will need professional pest advisors to conduct the pest assessments before planting in 2018. Other counties will be phased in over the next two years. Until the ban was announced two years ago, more than 90 per cent of Ontario’s corn and more than 60 per cent of soybeans were grown from neonic-treated seeds.
While many crop advisors are encouraging corn growers to go with DuPont Pioneer’s Lumivia and Syngenta’s Fortenza to avoid the laborious neonic scouting, there are currently no non-neonic alternatives for growers using neonic-treated soybean seeds.
Dan Yeoman, of Woodstock, is starting his own professional pest advising business in Oxford County. Farmers there can do their own pest assessments this year as the farmers won’t need to use a certified crop advisor until Aug. 31, 2018. However, Yeoman said many farmers don’t want to spend their time doing their own assessments. Yeoman, who plans to take up to 100 customers, will look after the digs, the traps and the paperwork and will go back three times to check to try and catch the pests in the trap if necessary.
“Farmers are concerned with the new products and the regulations,” he said. “We do know the products that we have with the neonicotinoids are going in the ground, they’re working, and they’re taking care of the insects before the crop emerges out of the ground.”