New training modules for slug pelleting are to be introduced by this autumn in a bid to improve operator standards and prevent pellets entering watercourses.
The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group, which includes major manufacturers and distributors, believes rapid improvements in operator behaviour are essential to stop severe restrictions of even a ban being placed on metaldehyde pellets. Each autumn the chemical is readily found in surface waters at levels which breach EU standards.
Gaps in current PA certification are being addressed to ensure operators applying slug pellets have sufficient knowledge of their environmental impact, with half day classroom-based training being rolled out by this autumn.
Announcing the changes at Cereals 2009, City & Guilds NPTC senior manager Steve Hewitt said the new training involved either compulsory or highly recommended classroom assessments, depending on qualifications already held. These would be followed by the launch a new PA module in January 2010.
“It’s clear that aspects of the impact of slug pellets on the environment and some basic knowledge of slug biology were missing from the current PA4,” he said. “And some users are unaware of the necessity to hold the PA4 at all, assuming they are still qualified to apply slug pellets under the PA2 module for boom spraying – this derogation to the PA2 was withdrawn in 1994.
Others, often students and family members, were illegally asked to go pelleting in the mistaken belief that there were no hazards associated with the practice, he added.
The second phase of the new training plans will start in January 2010 with a new module for slug pelleting being incorporated into the PA system.
National Sprayer Testing Scheme
The National Sprayer Testing Scheme is to be extended to offer testing of slug pelleting application kit and machinery.
A test protocol will be available before the autumn spreading season through recognised test centres, said NSTS manager Duncan Russell.
“The absolute necessity to ensure slug pellets are spread evenly and to the desired spread width is clear,” he said.
The new test will check the machine is operating to specification and will check its set-up to ensure pellets are spread to the desired width and at the correct rate, as well as testing spread pattern to ensure even application of pellets across the target area.
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