Slug pellets containing metaldehyde will be withdrawn from sale for outdoor use on June 30, 2019.
Defra announced the ban on metaldehyde because of risk to birds and mammals, following advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
A recent bid by the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) to extend the withdrawal period was unsuccessful. This means the phase out period, initially set by Defra in December 2018, still stands.
The sale and distribution of metaldehyde slug pellets will therefore end on June 30, and the disposal, storage and use of existing stocks will end on June 30, 2020.
Essex & Suffolk Water’s catchment management team has been working with farmers for nearly a decade to support the adoption of best practice stewardship to reduce the risk of metaldehyde entering watercourses.
In the early years, this involved providing training to spreading operatives and calibration of machinery, and more recently as part of their Pesti-wise initiative, grant funding for the purchase of precision application equipment.
Essex & Suffolk Water has also ensured farmers have the information they need when making their farming decisions, including funding farmers to trial the use of the alternative ferric phosphate pellets at no cost to themselves, and trialling the effectiveness of cultural controls to reduce slug pressure and help avoid the need for pellets.
Liz Corbett, catchment team manager at Essex & Suffolk Water, is urging growers to consider switching to the alternative ferric phosphate pellets, along with taking an integrated
pest management approach now, rather than acquiring metaldehyde pellets before the ban comes into force.
She says: “We want farmers to avoid being left with product in their store that they may not
need to apply this autumn and won’t be legal to use once the use-up period ends.
“This could be a potential risk if we experience another dry autumn/winter this year in the Anglian region, and associated slug pressure is low.”
The MSG has reminded growers that while metaldehyde slug pellets can be applied
legally this year, they must still be used responsibly with adherence to best practice stewardship guidelines as stocks are used up.
Growers who want to learn more about water quality management can visit the UK Water Companies stand at this year’s Cereals.