A programme to ensure the future availability of some of the most important products in the PCN toolbox
A practical stewardship programme for the use of nematicides aims to ensure the future availability of some of the most important products in the PCN toolbox. Dominic Kilburn reportsA new stewardship group has been formed to ensure grower and cross-industry collaboration over the best use and management of nematicide products applied to potatoes and other crops.Called the Nematicide Stewardship Programme (NSP), the joint initiative was launched in mid-January by agrochemical companies DuPont, Syngenta and Certis, with support from organisations including the Potato Council, NFU, processors and others.Central to the initiative is a set of over-arching ‘best practice’ protocols relating to all aspects of on-farm application and use of nematicides, as well as a standardised industry stewardship training module (for all nematicide products) – a half day training course for all farmers and farm staff involved with the application of nematicides – which must be undertaken by March 2017. In addition, the initiative will be incorporated into the Red Tractor Assurance scheme.
Speaking at the launch, DuPont marketing manager Neil Beadle said that the NSP was a joint approach to set minimum stewardship standards for application of all nematicides, as well as a process that would include the standardisation of PCN soil sampling and laboratory testing. “At its heart are the core values of protecting the environment, the consumer and the operator,” he commented, suggesting that a timeframe of three seasons had been set by the initiative for growers to achieve the requirements that had been set out. The joint initiative brings agrochemical companies DuPont, Certis and Syngenta together for the first time. Left to right is DuPont’s Neil Beadle, Certis’ Alan Horgan and Syngenta’s Mark Bullen.”We have set a common benchmark by adopting similar protocols to demonstrate best practice and there’s no doubt that we need to reach out to all operators; be they farmers, contractors or farm workers, to ensure they are fully up to speed with the correct way to both handle and apply these chemicals.
“These products are expensive and it’s critical that the right dose is applied, providing effective pest control. What we don’t want is over application of products leading to residues being found on crops,” he stressed.Mr Beadle highlighted that, as well as there being a requirement for growers to participate in a training programme by March 2017, by the same date it would also be compulsory that all application machinery be fitted with an in-cab device that allows the operator to shut off nematicide granule flow at least 3m from the end of each row.This, he said, was key in ensuring that no granules were left on the soil surface as the machine was lifted and turned.Machinery matters
Also speaking at the event was Horstine-Chafer’s Joe Allen (left) who pointed out that in order to meet the new guidelines, older farm machinery that wasn’t fitted with electric or hydraulic drive already, could, in the majority of cases, be upgraded to enable remote shut off. “It may not be possible in all situations to have an upgrade but for a new clutch kit you are looking at around 500,” he said.In terms of newer equipment, he explained that about 80 per cent of machines operated with auto-rate control, rather than land wheel-driven, leading to far greater application accuracy of nematicide applications, and also provided job-recording data for accountability.Mr Allen concluded that the new guidelines set out by the NSP were not difficult for most growers to achieve with their current line up of machinery, and that many would already be meeting the requirements.In terms of future developments, he added that GPS-guided nematicide applicators with a headland management option would become available.Testing time
With a stewardship requirement for growers to demonstrate that their granule applicator has been calibrated and checked by a qualified engineer within the past two years, National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) assistant manager, Ian Foreman (right) suggested that as well as offering its well-established liquid sprayer test, the organisation also provided a detailed test of applicators, covering a machine’s safety; metering and delivery systems; boom; pneumatic systems and output checks.Calibration training was also provided by NSTS, said Mr Foreman, as was general advice on the use and handling of nematicides. He added that an applicator test, which should be undertaken every two years, was likely to cost less than 200.Potato Council endorsement
Also attending the launch, Potato Council head of research and development Dr Mike Storey said that the Potato Council fully endorsed the Nematicide Stewardship Programme because of its importance in the control of potato cyst nematodes and future sustainability. “The stewardship of these products and the grower workshops are crucial so that we have control of PCN in the future.
“Having standardised soil sampling and laboratory testing is also important for everyone to get the same results and therefore the correct solutions.
“The NSP is a very good umbrella initiative bringing the industry together on PCN product use,” he added.Dr Storey said that there were nine PCN-based projects on-going that the Potato Council was currently funding; investing as much as 616,000. “Funding is for research into projects on PCN populations, surveys, biofumigation and variety testing among others – PCN is a huge issue for the industry and the NSP is one component ensuring that the application of products to control them is done right.” Why is nematicide stewardship needed?- To identify and promote best practice in the safe and efficient management of nematodes- In common with many actives, nematicides have come under scrutiny of EU legislators with the possibility of future product choice being restricted for farmers. One of the objectives of the programme, says the NSP, is to inform UK and EU policy makers of evidence to support sustainable nematode management.- Develop standardised soil sampling and laboratory testing.Nematicide Application Protocol – code of good practice for the
use of nematicidesProfessional advice:
Growers must demonstrate that advice has been sought from a BASIS qualified agronomist prior to the purchase and use of a nematicide. Recommendation sheets should be available for each treated field.Operator requirements:
Operators must be qualified to apply granular nematicides (NPTC PA4 or PA4G certification).By March 2017 staff applying nematicides must have completed the Industry Stewardship Training module.Machinery details:
Growers must demonstrate that the granule applicator has been calibrated and checked by a qualified engineer within the last two years.Cassettes and cartridges (including rotors) must be appropriate for the accurate application of nematicides.When applying nematicide growers should keep records to demonstrate that:- The applicator is checked prior to each work day, ensuring all pipework is correctly fitted, the hopper bungs are in place and the hopper lids are secure.- The applicator is calibrated each week.- The area treated and the product volume used match for each field.Protecting the environment – preventing granule spills:
Nematicides must be applied and incorporated within a single pass. Applicators with a working width wider than the rotary cultivator should not be used.By March 2017 all applicators must be fitted with a device in the cab that allows the operator to shut off nematicide granule flow at least 3m from the end of each row. For those applicators fitted with a hydraulic or electric motor this should already be possible. For those applicators driven by a land or spider wheel, an electric clutch can be fitted to the applicator drive shaft to enable remote shut-off.After planting growers should rotavate headlands to ensure there are no granules left on the soil surface.Growers should use a single site for filling hoppers in each field that can easily be checked for spillages (small spillages should be buried immediately).In the case of a larger spillage growers should use the original container to hold the product. Clearly identify the container to avoid re-use and contact manufacturer for advice on disposal.Operator exposure:
Operators are required to use correct PPE (personal protective equipment) in line with product labels and COSHH.A stable filling platform should be available for safe lifting and emptying of nematicide containers.Operators and field supervisors should be aware of the procedures required in case of an accidental poisoning of a member of staff.Post-application wildlife monitoring:
Growers should check treated fields two to three days after application for any bird or animal carcasses. Any carcasses found may indicate poor incorporation of granules (which should then be incorporated immediately).If you suspect a bird or animal has been poisoned, remove and cover the carcass and contact Natural England (0800 321600) as well as the granule manufacturer: Vydate (DuPont) 01438 734450; Nemathorin (Syngenta) 0800 1696058; Mocap (Certis) 01223 894261.