Farmers using anticoagulant rodenticide products in their operations will need to be trained and certified as competent in their use under new rules which come into play this October
As of October 1, 2016, all new rodenticide products manufactured will include a ‘stewardship phrase’, stating they can only be applied by certified individuals who are able to demonstrate compliance with UK rodenticide stewardship or are members of certain farm assurance schemes.
Old label products (without the phrase) will be on sale until October 1, and where stock has been purchased it may be legitimately used up until March 31, 2017.
Those who are members of a stewardship-approved farm assurance scheme will be permitted to purchase and use products with the new labelling until the end of December 2017.
To become certified as ‘competent’, farmers must enrol in an accredited training course and pass an exam. Courses are run by a number of organisations which are all recognised by Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU), which promotes best practice and appropriate use of rodent control products.
There are about 11 different qualifications to choose from, which can be taken at various locations across the country on numerous dates.
For those unable to attend a classroom-based session, there are online training courses, such as one run by the British Pest Control Association which includes a BASIS exam after completion.
There are some certifications which permit ’grandfather rights’, applicable to individuals who obtained the pest control certification between certain dates, to purchase and use rodenticides labelled under the stewardship requirements after October 1, 2016.
Working closely with CRRU is Bayer, the first company to relabel all of its rodenticides with the new stewardship phrase.
Ken Black, Bayer’s rural hygiene manager, is encouraged by engagement from farmers.
"At least 70 per cent of farmers I have spoken to have already been on a training course, are booked onto one, or are part of an approved farm assurance scheme."
Mr Black urged farmers needing to use rodenticides this winter to make sure they have registered for a training course as it is likely old label stock will run out before the cut-off date in October.
He added: "If your rodent problem is on a small enough scale, you can still purchase amateur products up to 1.5kg in pack size after this date. However, if you have a large infestation, it is advisable to enrol in a course or consider employing the services of a professional pest controller."
There is growing concern about the toxicity of the anticoagulant rodenticides which account for most baits used in the UK, as well as rodent resistance to some of the active ingredients and their effect on the environment, particularly to raptor species at the top of the food chain.
This is the reasoning behind the new rodenticide stewardship.
Bayer technical manager Richard Moseley said: "We know our products are essential to farm hygiene, but we understand the need to address the wider environmental impact in an industry-led solution to responsible rodenticide use.
"If people do not follow CRRU guidelines, the use of products could become restricted, or in the worst case, removed from the market completely."