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10m buffer zone for metaldehyde slug pellet applications Revised stewardship guidelines for 2017 mean that farmers applying slug pellets containing active ingredient metaldehyde this season must ensure that none fall within a minimum of 10m of any field boundary or watercourse. Dominic Kilburn reports. The new 10tttm buffer zone represents a significant development from the previous 6m buffer zone that was only required alongside a watercourse. With metaldehyde currently under-going re-registration, this latest advice for growers is part of a recently-launched enhanced stewardship package for 2017 and, although product labels remain unchanged for this year, the 10m buffer zone requirement is likely to be on labels, and mandatory, in 2018. According to the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG), which promotes and encourages best practise with metaldehyde pellets, the new guidelines will enhance the protection of watercourses as well as protect birds and small mammals that predominantly feed and find habitat on field boundaries. Speaking at an MSG event

launching ‘Enhanced Stewardship for 2017’, MSG spokeswoman, Adama’s Alison Hall explained that the regulatory risk assessment of metaldehyde, which forms part of the process of re-registration, is now more rigorous than ever and it had been identified that there was a risk to small birds and mammals.

Water aware “Water stewardship remains vital in terms of stopping metaldehyde from reaching drinking water, however the enhanced stewardship scheme, including the new 10m buffer zone guideline, has been developed in conjunction with the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) as a condition of product availability. “It’s a CRD-agreed policy which means that if there’s no stewardship, then there will be no product,” she clarified.

Also speaking at the event, and MSG spokesman, De Sangosse’s Simon McMunn said that the enhanced stewardship for 2017 required increased awareness of, and adherence to, four key steps. “New to the guidelines is the 10m buffer zone. This will not only reduce the number of pellets going direct into a water course but it will help protect small birds and small mammals. “Secondly, to help minimise slug infestations and reduce the need for treatment, metaldehyde pellets must only be used as part of a wider integrated pest management (IPM) programme – a whole farm approach to managing slug risk and pressure including factors such as soil and stubble management, drilling methods and trapping and monitoring,” he explained. “Thirdly, before treating with metaldehyde, farmers, agronomists and operators should stop and think about field factors such as the condition of the soil, the slope of the land and the proximity of a watercourse. “They need to focus on areas of

the farm that are of high risk in terms of metaldehyde pellet applications,” he added. Finally, Mr McMunn said that it was vital that prior to applications, farmers should think B.I.R.D – Buffer; I’m legal; Records and Dose “These steps are all easy to implement but will have significant impacts on the future of metaldehyde availability. “Enhanced stewardship is essential to ensure maximum protection to birds, small mammals and water,” he added.

Still available Hutchinsons’ technical development director Dr David Ellerton said that he firmly believed that stewardship was one of the core reasons that metaldehyde is still available to farmers. “We need to keep this momentum going forward and I encourage the agricultural industry to engage with enhanced stewardship and implement the necessary steps required to protect metaldehyde.” More information on enhanced metaldehyde stewardship can be found at:

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