BASF sponsors field trials looking at using white mustard as companion crop to OSR to cut cabbage stem beetle outbreaks

This oilseed rape/white mustard mix, pictured last December, survived intense flea beetle pressure i

This oilseed rape/white mustard mix, pictured last December, survived intense flea beetle pressure in NIAB TAG trials. The mustard will be taken out much earlier using the Clearfield system, says BASF. - Credit: BASF

Agricultural chemicals firm BASF is sponsoring trials looking at the potential of using white mustard as a companion crop to reduce cabbage stem flea beetle grazing in oilseed rape (OSR) crops.

The NIAB TAG trials are aimed at alleviating problems caused by the ban on neonicotinoid insecticide seed treatments over the past three seasons, including instances of severe crop damage or loss due to outbreaks of the pest.

Small plot experiments in recent seasons have suggested white mustard grown amongst or next to OSR plants may reduce grazing damage by adult beetles, said BASF business development manager Clare Tucker.

NIAB TAG will be extending its work on the concept this season, both independently and in collaboration with BASF. In parallel, BASF is also setting up its own grower trials to test the concept further.

Several seed rates will be assessed in both trials.