Metaldehyde slug pellets must not be allowed to fall within 10 metres of any field boundary or watercourse under new stewardship guidelines launched by the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group.
The buffer was previously 6m and only applied alongside watercourses. However slug control products containing metaldehyde are currently undergoing re-registration and the regulatory risk assessment which forms part of this process has revealed a requirement for increased protection of small birds and mammals.
Implementation of a minimum 10m buffer alongside all field boundaries will help protect birds and small mammals, as well as providing additional protection to water, explains Simon McMunn, spokesman for the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group.
The Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) has made enhanced stewardship a condition of metaldehyde product availability and regulators will be monitoring the campaign closely.
Farming remains under pressure to reduce the amount of crop protection products, including metaldehyde, finding their way into raw surface water. The threat of a ban on use remains, although earlier this spring water industry body Water UK the issued a position paper in which it stated: ‘Water UK does not currently view that there is any justification for a complete nationwide ban of metaldehyde, recognising the significant issue that slugs pose to our agricultural industry and the importance of retaining several actives on the market’.
The guidelines apply to metaldehyde slug pellets. Ferric phosphate pellets can be applied within buffer zone areas.
According to Hutchinsons technical director Dr David Ellerton, stewardship has played a key part in keeping metaldehyde available to farmers.
“I’d therefore encourage the agricultural industry to engage with the enhanced stewardship and implement the necessary steps required to protect metaldehyde,” he says.
Enhanced stewardship is now a CRD-agreed condition of metaldehyde product availability.
Labels on packs of slug pellets remain unchanged for 2017. However the enhanced stewardship guidelines should be implemented with immediate effect, says the MSG.