Growers have been warned to use slug pellets with care as farming prepares for one of the busiest spring planting periods for years.

The increased spring cropping and a mild winter have raised the risk of slug damage. But the most widely used slug pellet – metaldehyde – has been found at higher levels in watercourses in the past 12 months, raising environmental concerns.

Paul Fogg from the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group told Farmers Weekly that the vital treatment still had a future, if used wisely.

“It is by no means a done deal on the back of the autumn that metaldehyde’s days are numbered – the whole industry has achieved a lot in keeping it and working together we can hopefully carry that on,” he said.

Growers should begin their slug control as soon as possible, according to Mr Fogg, mitigating the risky strategy of leaving it all until the autumn when the threat of water pollution is higher.

“Let’s try to manage the problem throughout the year, starting now by trapping,” he said.

He added that growers were already reporting high slug numbers, with one finding 15 per trap in some fields.

Mr Fogg highlighted growers needed to be aware that guidelines allow just 700g/ha of metaldehyde to look after spring crops and autumn crops, which could present a challenge.

“Following the guidelines and using the minimum amount to gain control will be important. Growers must also not forget other methods of slug management such as cultural control,” he said.

See www.getpelletwise.co.uk for advice on metaldehyde.

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