Anappeal to farmers to take metaldehyde stewardship seriously for the slugpelleting season ahead has been made, as Defra, the Environment Agency and thewater companies make clear their recognition of its importance to agriculture.
Defrawater quality spokesman Matthew Hampshire has outlined that minimising thenegative impact on agricultural and crop protection industry is a key goal.
Ourobjectives are to address metaldehyde exceedances in drinking water to aim tocomply with water quality legislation, as well as to minimise burdens on theagricultural and crop protection industry by keeping as many pesticide productson the market as possible.
TheEnvironment Agencys Jo Kennedy adds, A UK wide withdrawal of metaldehydewould be an absolute last resort its not a course of action the EA currentlysupports or wishes to see. We are focussed instead on working with otherregulators and industry to find a more targeted, risk based way of tackling theproblem we dont think a UK wide ban is the solution.
SimonEyre of Anglian Water explains that the water companies are working withstakeholders as never before. We understand how important metaldehyde is tothe farming industry and whilst our obligation is to be compliant with drinkingwater standards, we need to work together to deliver a solution.
Thepilot projects where zero metaldehyde is advocated in defined fields is anexample of this activity, he adds.
HazelDoonan, sector head of crop protection at AIC (Agricultural IndustriesConfederation) says its not game over as far as metaldehyde is concerned.There is a lot activity happening to reduce metaldehyde getting into waterthat does not involve an outright ban.
Inthe meantime and for this autumn in particular we must see the industryscommitment to stewardship continue. The Metaldehyde Stewardship Groups GetPelletwise message is well understood and we ideally want to see risks ofmetaldehyde movement to water being assessed at a a field-by-field level.
MetaldehydeStewardship Group (MSG) Chairman Dr David Cameron said that the season aheadwill be crucial.
Itseasy to find out if the land receiving slug pellet treatment is at risk byvisiting the Environment Agencys WIYBY website at www.wiyby.co.uk. Simply enter the postcodeand if the land is within a hatched area, click on it to find out ifmetaldehyde is an identified risk.
Fieldrisk factors for metaldehyde can be summed up as the three Ss of slope,stream and soil type, where the lands topography, proximity to awatercourse and soil type are the key factors, with heavier, under-drainedsoils most affected, he warns.
Formore information and details of the current pilot projecting assessing thefeasibility of field-based slug pellet substitution, visit www.getpelletwise.co.uk.