1 August 1997

Flexibility of LERAP plans gains support

ANY easing of rigid and sometimes apparently anomalous restrictions on pesticides applied near water would be readily embraced by Lincs-based Aubourn Farming, says Bridgett Carroll.

Responding to the LERAP proposal, she says: "It would be great news. We have got so many ditches around our fields up here.

"We would welcome it as a more sensible approach and would be quite happy to do it." The fact that some organophosphorus (OP) insecticides like triazaphos (as in Hostathion) may be legally sprayed right up to a watercourse while pyrethroids like cypermethrin cannot is distinctly odd, she adds. "It is bizarre. OPs are far more dangerous generally."

NFU pesticides specialist Chris Wise says much work has gone into making the LERAP proposal workable. "There is no reason why it should not be practical and it is the only means by which we can ameliorate the effect of the current restrictions."

Dr Wise says apparent oddities, as mentioned by Ms Carroll, can often be explained scientifically. The key in her example could be the so-called half-life of the two pesticides in water. "The half-life of Hostathion is probably very short compared with cypermethrin."

Practicality is the key to LERAP, says Anne Buckenham, BAA director. "If it is practical for farmers and enables them to make judgements to reduce no-spray zones we would support that."

Martyn Cox, technical development manager at crop protection specialist &#42 L Hutchinson, is similarly enthusiastic. "LERAP seems a common sense way forward. If field margin restrictions are required and some sensible approach comes out of it operators will be much happier."

The firms computer-based agronomy system will already handle the changes, he adds. "We had anticipated this happening. We are committed to helping our customers deal with such issues."n