Dry weather increases potential risk of pesticides reaching watercourses

Due to the extreme weather conditions experienced across the country this summer, growers are being warned about the potential increased risk of pesticides reaching watercourses.

On behalf of the ‘OSR Herbicides? Think Water’ stewardship initiative, and the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG), Alison Hall explains that the prolonged period of almost no rainfall, teamed with soaring temperatures, has resulted in very dry and cracked soils.

“I’ve not seen anything like it before, it’s astounding. In some areas of the country, particularly where the soils are heavier, farmers have witnessed significant cracks, some big enough to get your arm inside,” says Alison.

However, she points out that the recent rainfall across much of the country means that some of the cracks close to the soil surface may have disappeared.

“Although this may be the case, it’s important to note that the cracks are likely to remain below the surface, or the cultivated layer, until further rainfall events occur,” says Alison.

“For this reason, it’s particularly important that farmers are aware of the potential increased risk of pesticides, such as OSR herbicides and metaldehyde slug pellets, reaching watercourses via surface run-off, drain flow, or soil erosion this autumn, and consider what steps they can take to help reduce the potential impacts.”

As a starting point, Paul Goddard, BASF stewardship and value chain manager, highlights the importance of establishing seedbeds.

“Cultivations will help to break up large cracks and reduce the direct passage of water carrying pesticides into drains,” he explains.

“Where possible, I’d recommend delaying pesticide applications until any cracks are fully sealed,” adds Paul.

“However, if this isn’t feasible, pesticide applications shouldn’t be made if rain is forecast within three or four days. This is best practice, even when soils above field drains aren’t cracked.”

In addition, Alison highlights the importance of referring to stewardship guidelines.

“In order to help maintain a future for vital pesticides, such as OSR Herbicides and metaldehyde slug pellets, growers should follow relevant stewardship steps, and product labels to help ensure efficient and effective use while protecting the environment.”

For more information on Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG), visit: www.getpelletwise.co.uk

For more information on the ‘OSR Herbicides? Think Water’ stewardship initiative, visit: https://voluntaryinitiative.org.uk/schemes/stewardship/osr-herbicides-think-water/

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.