As the slug pellet application season fast approaches, the agricultural industry is being reminded of the importance of implementing enhanced metaldehyde stewardship.
Alison Hall, spokesperson for the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG), explains that while it was hoped that metaldehyde product re-registrations would come through ahead of the 2018 slug pelleting season, the process is still ongoing.
“There’s still no decision, but we’ve been making a strong case to the authorities as to how stewardship is delivering environmental benefits.
“Which means it’s more important than ever that agronomists, farmers and contractors advise upon and use the molluscicide responsibly this season,” she adds.
There are four key stewardship steps to follow.
“Firstly, no pellets should be allowed to fall within a minimum of 10 metres of any field boundary or watercourse,” says Alison.
“The buffer was historically six metres and it only applied to watercourses. However, increasing it to 10 metres of all field boundaries helps protect birds and small mammals, and provides additional protection to water,” she adds.
“Secondly, with the view of helping to minimise slug infestations and reduce the need for treatment, metaldehyde slug pellets must only be used as part of a wider Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme.
“Factors such as soil and stubble management, planting methods, weather, trapping and monitoring should all be considered as part of slug control programmes. And, if treatment is necessary, it’s imperative to refer to the full set of MSG guidelines,” she says.
“Think ‘Soil, Slope and Stream’. Your field’s soil type, topography and proximity to a water course are all key to understanding whether metaldehyde applications could impact drinking water quality.
“And, last but not least, stop and think ‘B.I.R.D’ before applying. This stands for Buffer, I’m legal, Records, and Dose.”