Metaldehyde ban a big blow to British farmers and growers

The banning of metaldehyde is hugely disappointing and will have a major impact on British farmers and growers, the NFU said today.

Defra has announced that a ban on the outdoor use of metaldehyde is to be introduced across Great Britain from Spring 2020, despite products containing it still being authorised for use in other countries that export food to the UK.

Guy Smith, NFU Deputy President, said: “Today’s announcement is very disappointing and will have a major impact on British farmers and growers. These products have been reauthorised for use in 21 EU member states and this ban is another decision that will have an impact on food production in this country. It simply gifts a competitive advantage to farmers abroad who will export into our markets using crop protection materials banned in the UK.

“Slugs are a significant pest for agricultural and horticultural crops like oilseed rape, cereals and potatoes which, if left unchecked, can cause considerable damage. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has estimated that a lack of slug control products could cost UK crop production £100 million a year.

“Metaldehyde products play a key role as part of an integrated approach to slug control. Farmers are acutely aware of the need to use these products judiciously and to ensure their use has minimal impact on the environment. In autumn 2017, the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group introduced enhanced stewardship guidelines to help increase protection of watercourses and minimise the risk to other wildlife. Uptake of, and engagement with, these enhanced guidelines has been high and initial observations suggest that less metaldehyde was used in autumn 2017.

“Farmers and growers already use a holistic approach to slug control to keep the use of slug pellets to a minimum. While ferric phosphate can be used as an alternative slug control treatment it is possible that resistance could develop, as we have seen with other pesticide products when alternatives have been removed and farmers and growers have been left to rely on one active ingredient.”

David Cameron, chairman of the group representing professional uses, the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG), says the news comes as a blow to the agricultural industry, who have worked collaboratively to safeguard this key active ingredient for slug control, since 2008.

Ben Shapiro, representing the Amateur Metaldehyde Stewardship group (MSA) says; “We are continuing to consult with Defra surrounding the sell-out period for the amateur uses of metaldehyde products.”

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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.