Potato farmers in New Zealand have a new tool to control broadleaf weeds in their crops, now that a new herbicide has been approved with strict conditions. Soleto contains the active ingredient metobromuron, which is new to New Zealand, but approved in Europe.
The applicant, Belchim Crop Protection, sought approval for the importation or manufacture of Soleto. It said the way the product is used (ground-based application) means that there is a low exposure risk for operators and bystanders. It also noted that the product leaves no residue on harvested potatoes.
In assessing the application, Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) scientists found Soleto has “a significant benefit” against weed resistance, providing an extra tool for farmers.
A decision-making committee has set strict rules for the use of this substance. It can only be applied once a year, at a restricted amount. There are also restrictions on the droplet size and rules to prevent spray drift and runoff into waterways.
The approval requires that the product label includes instructions to ensure non-target plants are not affected. Soleto should only be used on bare soil, and the label must specify the product “should only be used after planting and before crop emergence”.
“This product is not for use by home gardeners, and can only be applied by people who are trained to safely use these types of substances,” says EPA spokesperson Siobhan Quayle.
The EPA is responsible for regulating chemicals and other dangerous goods and substances under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act.
“This means we make decisions on whether to approve new hazardous substances. We put rules (called “controls”) in place to manage the risks of hazardous substances and to safeguard people and the environment,” says Siobhan Quayle.