The second year of the UK’s largest ever metaldehyde-free farming trial has seen a 93 per cent drop in levels of metaldehyde detected in reservoir tributaries.
By switching to metaldehyde alternatives, farmers within the catchments of seven reservoirs in Northamptonshire, Rutland, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, covering 10,050ha (24,834acres), have successfully reduced metaldehyde levels in local water courses, as part of the Slug it Out campaign.
The second year of the trial, which involved 123 farmers, resulted in an estimated 2,111kg of metaldehyde being removed from the farmed landscape.
Compared to 2014, the maximum level of metaldehyde in reservoir tributaries fell by an average of 93 per cent, while the average peak levels detected in the reservoirs fell by 37 per cent.
Lucinda Gilfoyle, catchment strategy manager for Anglian Water, said: “Although a 93 per cent reduction is a fantastic result for these trial areas, there is still more to do. Our industries are faced with navigating this thorny regulatory issue and so it is essential we work together and continue to tackle it.
“If we are to comply with pesticide regulations, we know that a more detailed and longer term strategy is needed, which also takes account of non-agricultural and domestic use of metaldehyde and focusses on our most high risk areas for water quality.
“I want to say a huge thank you to all those farmers who have taken part so far – they have helped us build a valuable picture of pesticide movement and on individual farms they have proven that the alternatives to metaldehyde really do work in tackling slug damage.”