Cereals 2009: Slug pelleting area promotes best practice

Don’t let regulators deprive the industry of a key input. Get along to the new Pellets and Pelleting area to find out how you can help safeguard the future of metaldehyde and all slug pellet products.

The Pellets and Pelleting arena mirrors the popular Sprays and Sprayers area, with 20-minute working demonstrations running every hour and a host of key exhibitors on hand to lend advice and support.

With pressure on the industry to reduce the levels of metaldehyde in river water, the demonstration’s aim is to focus on best practice slug control, with practical pointers for operators and farm owners alike.

So, if you want to know how best to store, transport and load pellets, how best to calibrate, operate and clean the applicator, what sort of buffer zones to leave when spreading, what protective clothing to wear, how best to clean up spills – and a host of other key pelleting tips, head for the Pellets and Pelleting area.

The arena is the latest initiative from the nationwide Get Pelletwise campaign, co-ordinated by the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) (pdf) and supported by Cereals event organiser Haymarket and media sponsor Farmers Weekly.

Slug-pellets-Cereals

The new Pellets and Pelleting area at Cereals 2009 offers operators a great chance to brush up on best practice

Pellets and Pelleting brings everyone in the industry together – in one big new technical area – at a time when urgent action is needed, says demonstration co-ordinator and pesticide stewardship consultant, Steve Higginbotham.

Last year water companies found metaldehyde levels exceeding the drinking water standard of 0.1ppb in surface waters across England, he says.

So what does that mean? Well, a single 5% metaldehyde slug pellet would push 10,000 litres of water over the limit – that’s one pellet in three typical self-propelled sprayer tanks full of water.

“The water companies can pick up the equivalent of one 5% w/w pellet in a typical 33m-long ditch,” Mr Higginbotham says. Such a low level poses no human health risk, experts say. But it is the established limit and unlike some other pesticides found in water, there is no reliable method of removing metaldehyde.

So farming needs to prevent similar levels being found in surface waters this autumn. That means tackling a host of possible routes by which metaldehyde can get into surface waters: Field run-off after heavy rainfall, poor application and point-source spills.

The MSG is proposing a 5m no-spread zone around all watercourses and ditches, maximum single dose rates of 250g/ha metaldehyde and a maximum application rate of 700g/ha per calendar year. It urges growers to adopt best pelleting practice.

It is that better pellet practice that will be the focus of the demo arena at Cereals. So be sure to bring your dedicated slug pellet operator along to listen in to the on the hour, every hour demos provided by the organisers working with Staffordshire SCS Spreader and Sprayer Testing and a range of equipment manufacturers, including Stocks.

Best practice calibration and application will be explained using one of the most widely used ATV and spreader combinations. The aim is that visitors will be able to complete a questionnaire to secure NRoSO accreditation and maybe win one of 18 Stocks calibration chutes being given away hourly throughout the event.

Surrounding the arena will be exhibits from the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group, industry bodies NRoSO, Lantra, FWAG, AEA/NSTS, EA and representatives from the water industry and water companies outlining the need for change. Slug pellet manufacturers De Sangosse and Certis will have trade stands.

David Glenn of Styloma Consulting, a leading authority on slug control, will be on hand to answer questions on best practice and to pinpoint which slugs do most damage and how to determine when control thresholds have been reached.

The MSG urges growers and operators to recognise that everyone has an important part to play in keeping metaldehyde in the market place. “This is a real wake-up call for farming,” stresses Mr Higginbotham. “All we ask is that every visitor comes along to the new arena before devising slug control strategies for next season’s crops.”

Pellets and pelleting arena

  • New for Cereals 2009
  • Beside Sprays & Sprayers area
  • 20min demo every hour, on the hour, explaining best practice
  • NRoSO accreditation
  • Guidelines
  • Industry views
  • MSG members: Lonza, Certis, Chiltern Farm Chemicals, De Sangosse, Doff Portland, Frunol Delicia, Makhteshim Agan and SBM