Early Discovery & Development

  • Supporting the early discovery and development stage of new molecules - we can help you increase compound value and identify and mitigate registration challenges
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Early Discovery & Development
Fera is a leading provider of early discovery and development work trials for plant-protection products. We are officially recognised as a component body* to carry out tests on products for agricultural, horticultural, stored crop and vertebrate control application including adjuvants and biologicals .

Early Discovery

Farmers may be facing a perfect crop protection storm that’s fast moving. On the one hand, climate change studies and others are forecasting increasing pest and disease problems with higher summer temperatures stressing both plants and animals, while warmer winters mean more insects and disease are surviving to strike again. Compounding the problem, crop protection companies now have far higher costs, steeper regulatory hurdles, and longer delays for launching new products.

It takes on average about 5-15 years to develop one complete crop protection and nutrition product from the time it is discovered to when it is available for treating crops and plants. The average cost to research and develop each successful complete crop protection and nutrition product is estimated to be nearly reaching the £500 million mark. This number includes the cost of the thousands of failures: For every 1,000 - 5,000 compounds that enter the research and development (R&D) pipeline, ultimately only one receives approval. Success requires immense resources including the best scientific minds, supported with highly sophisticated technology. The task of discovering and developing safe and effective pesticides and other plant protection compounds is becoming an increasingly challenging undertaking however as our knowledge of pest & disease increases we are able to harness this knowledge to deliver more success.  Fera provides early discovery and development screening services to support help you successfully patent and register new pesticide and other plant protection compounds.  Our scientists will test the efficacy of your compounds under controlled conditions on a wide range of plant pest, pathogen and weed species

Whether you need early screening of new active ingredients, small-scale ‘pilot’ studies to support new product development or large-scale efficacy data for product registration, our scientists have the expertise and resources to deliver a bespoke testing programme to suit your requirements. 


How can we help?

* Certificate number: ORETO 134.



We are no ordinary people.

We are original thinkers and problem solvers.

Take a tour of our extensive facilities.

  • protection from diseases and yield-threatening weeds
    Herbicides & Fungicides
  • protection from pests & insects for high yields and quality
    Pesticides & Insecticides
  • BUILDING SEEDS' RESISTANCE TO PEST ATTACKS & ENVIRONMENTAL STRESSES
    Seed Treatment
  • ENHANCE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CROP PROTECTION PRODUCTS
    Adjuvants

We understand the industry and conduct research in our own laboratories and extensive glasshouse facilities including field trials, in order to deliver a swift and agile response to new developments.  

Using state-of-the-art facilities and our world-class scientific know-how, we work collaboratively with our clients to co-develop research results allowing for a higher potential to take the compound to the next stage. At all times we are open to new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking as innovation is the key for success.

Fera can work flexibly, performing both small-scale indicative studies or to meet more in-depth higher tier testing requirements for a compound. This includes providing expert guidance to support large-scale efficacy data for product registration and individual environmental fate and ecotoxicology screens for single compounds to support small-scale ‘pilot’ studies. Our bespoke testing programmes suit all scale projects to help our partners successfully patent and register new pesticide and other plant-protection compounds.


Get in touch


Adjuvants - enhancing the effectiveness of crop
protection products to get the best results

Get in touch

Chemical Market Approval

Only approved adjuvants on the HSE list may be used with pesticides including Biopesticides (Bio). If you are looking to market your adjuvant for use with a synthetic (traditional) pesticide or a Bio you must still follow the CRD approval process. Why not get in touch to see how we can your business.

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Related news background
Fera has the best people in the right place focussed on delivering the right solution. We continuously invest in our people and support them in delivering the best science to our partners.
Areas of Expertise

Marc Kennedy

Marc's expertise is in the analysis of computer simulation models and has developed specialist tools and software for sensitivity analysis, uncertainty analysis and calibration of complex models

Meet the scientists

Phil Jennings

Phil Jennings has over 25 years of experience in fungal plant pathology, especially epidemiology, disease control, experimental/field trial designs and investigative research approaches.

Efficacy Screening

Tony Cowgill

Tony has worked with many farming businesses over the years as their preferred agronomist, whilst at the same time working as a Sales and Marketing Director. Tony continues to be a BASIS  examiner, for people taking the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection. 


With world-class facilities and capabilities 


Field Trials

Our Senior trials team have more than 20 years' experience conducting replicated field trials. All trials staff are fully trained. You will have access to  4 onsite 816sqm plots simulating true-to-life scenarios. Agricultural trials can be undertaken throughout the year including seed sown during winter months to truly replicate the growing cycle.

Glasshouses - Early Discovery & Development

Fera offers a comprehensive range of screening services for early discovery and development of new molecules - helping you increase compound value, identification of registration challenges as well as mitigating registration challenges with our efficacy studies. All performed in our extensive environmentally controlled facilities.


  • WIDE RANGE
    Plant Pests, Pathogens & Weed Species 
  • REGISTRATION SUPPORT
    New Compounds & Control Methods
  • PATENT APPLICATION SUPPORT
    Clear, Comprehensive Reporting
  • STATE OF THE ART FACILITIES
    Extensive Facilities, Experienced Scientists

Download the Efficacy ebook.

An evaluation of efficacy of any new compound is required before any PPP can be developed and then ultimately marketed. At Fera, we understand that the industry is under significant pressure as regulatory requirements for agrochemicals become more stringent, and therefore there are less active ingredients to choose from.  Dedicated to supporting our partners bring their products to market, Fera uses original thinking and scientific knowledge to create bespoke solutions that help our partners test new compounds.

Fera can work flexibly, performing both small-scale indicative studies or to meet more in-depth higher tier testing requirements for a compound.



Available Screens

Your Fera efficacy testing programme will be fully confidential. Fera offers a multi stage efficacy screening approach for plant-protection products and control methods. 

We can carry out tests for efficacy on a wide range of species, including:

  • Many major pest (plant pathogen, insect, nematode or weed) of arable and horticultural crops.
  • Stored product beetles.
  • Public health pests, including cockroaches and flies.
  • Poultry and dust mites.
  • Ants.

Your tests can be carried out in a range of environments, according to your needs, from controlled laboratory conditions to practical semi-field and full-field trials. We recommend that initial laboratory studies are run in conjunction with phytotoxicity trials, to determine your product’s compatibility with a range of crop species.

Screen Tests Available
Primary Screen (All compounds)
Compounds for primary screening can be tested against: fungal plant pathogens,
nematodes, insects, mites and weeds. You can customise testing according to your needs
Pathogen Efficacy Agar Test
Nematicidal Activity Agar Test
Entomology Assessment Leaf Dip
Herbicidal Activity Seedlings
Secondary Screen (compounds assessed against targets
where efficacy demonstrated in the Primary Screen)
- Secondary screening tests
are carried out in planta either in a glasshouse or controlled environment room. In these
screens compounds can be applied either at high volumes using hand held atomiser
sprayers or at low volume (field rate)  using the laboratory track sprayer.
Pathogen Efficacy
- Includes Septoria leaf blotch, brown rust and Asian soybean rust 
Nematicidal Activity
-  Agar (concentration ranges)
- In planta (sand test)
Entomology Assessment Leaf Discs - living/dead ratio
Herbicidal Activity - Seedling Weed & Crop Services
Drought Stress - Seeding Stomata Assessment
Tertiary Screen - Compounds assessed against targets where efficacy demonstrated in
Secondary Screen. In these screens compounds can be applied either at high volumes
using hand held atomiser sprayers or at low volume (field rate) using the laboratory track sprayer
Resistance Profiling - Various pathogens strains
Herbicide Assessment - Pre/post emergence of crop/weeds
Fungicide Assessment - Protective/curative
Insecticide Assessment - Protective/curative
Activity Assessment - Systemic/contact
Mode of Action Comparison
Quaternary Screen - Compounds assessed targets where efficacy demonstrated in
tertiary screen. Quaternary screening studies are tailored for each compound, based on
previous screening results and evidence. Studies will be designed to deliver in-silico
evaluation of compounds to support the chemical synthesis programme, or to determine
likely regulatory issues such as toxicology or ecotoxicology.
Mammalian Toxiciity - In silico Method
Ecotoxicology - In silico Method
Bespoke - Based in outputs of previous screens and evidence required


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