Metaldehyde Stewardship: Promoting responsible usage for long term sustainability
Metaldehyde based slug pellets continue to be the primary molluscicide of choice for many UK farmers in controlling a pest which, if left unchecked, could cost an estimated £43.5m per year in lost wheat and oilseed rape yield.
The MSG’s ‘Get Pelletwise’ campaign aims to promote and encourage best practice use of metaldehyde slug pellets to minimise environmental impacts and preserve the future of metaldehyde as a tool for slug control.
All UK metaldehyde slug pellet products are currently under-going regulatory re-evaluation. This process has highlighted a need for increased protection of the environment from metaldehyde products. For this reason, the slug pellet stewardship scheme, which previously has been entirely voluntary, is now a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) agreed condition of metaldehyde product availability.
In practical terms, this means adhering to four areas of metaldehyde stewardship:
- Integrated Pest Management
- Protecting watercourses
- Adhering to the Get Pelletwise guidelines
- Think B.I.R.D. at the point of application
Integrated Pest Management
The new guidelines state that slug pellets must only be used as part of an Integrated Pest Management approach to slug control: not only to reduce slug pressure but also to reduce the need for metaldehyde treatment. Growers should therefore consider the following to ensure an inhospitable habitat for slugs:
- Create a fine, consolidated seedbed by rolling to produce a fine tilth, free of clods
- Consider the most appropriate cultivation for your cropping system to minimise slug activity
- Drill into fine, consolidated seedbeds at appropriate dates. 3cm depth is sufficient to deny slugs access to the seed
- Assess the requirement for slug control via trapping – if bait thresholds indicate a risk, apply pellets just after drilling or rolling
- Apply a second treatment, if needed when slug activity is high and crop growth is slow
- Take individual field risk factors into account: slug history, previous cropping, time of year, soil type and condition, current and forecast weather, use of a seed treatment
- Establishing tramlines across the slope and parallel to watercourses will also reduce the risk of run-off to water
Protecting watercourses with WaterAware featuring #SlugAware
The key factors determining whether metaldehyde could reach a watercourse:
- Soil – is the soil heavy and under-drained?
- Slope – is the field on a gradient?
- Stream – is there a ditch or watercourse in close proximity?
In order to ensure pellets (and other pesticides) are not applied during excessively wet weather, Adama has developed its WaterAware smartphone app. The free app analyses soil type, predicted soil moisture deficit and weather forecast information for a specific field location and generates a simple “Yes/No” guide with regard to the timing of spray and pellet applications based on the potential risk to surface water. The latest version of the app also features a specific #SlugAware feature which enables users to assess the risk of slug and snail activity on a field-by-field basis.
The app is successfully being used by growers across the UK and has proven to be a valuable decision-making and water protection tool.
Get Pelletwise guidelines
In addition to the protection of water, new measures have been introduced in 2017 to protect birds and small mammals. In effect this means:
- No metaldehyde slug pellets are to be allowed to fall within a minimum of 10 metres of any field boundary or watercourse
- Use minimum active per hectare to avoid drainage and run-off losses
- Maximum application rates not to exceed 210g/ha of Metaldehyde. For additional protection of water, suppliers/BASIS advisors may recommend rates reduced to 160g/ha or less.
- Maximum total dose from 1st August to 31st December not to exceed 210g/ha of Metaldehyde. For additional protection of water, suppliers/BASIS advisers may recommend rates reduced to 160g/ha or less.
- Maximum total dose rate: 700 g/ha/calendar year.
- Do not apply when heavy rain is forecast.
- If drains are flowing do not apply metaldehyde based slug pellets.
Before making any metaldehyde applications – stop and THINK:
- Buffer – no metaldehyde slug pellets to be allowed to fall within a minimum of 10 metres of any field boundary or watercourse
- I’m legal – are you suitably qualified and using equipment that’s been tested to the required standard?
- Records – are all of your records up to date and robust?
- Dose – are you applying the correct doses according to the label and MSG guidelines restrictions?
For more information about the latest Get Pelletwise campaign news, or to find out more about the WaterAware app and Adama’s Gusto® 3 pellets please follow the links below.