Extension on metaldehyde withdrawal period refused

The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group has been unsuccessful in their bid to extend the withdrawal period of metaldehyde slug pellet products.

In December, it was announced Metaldehyde, a pesticide used to control slugs in a range of crops and in gardens, would be banned for outdoor use across Great Britain.

This means that the phase-out periods, initially set in December 2018, still stand.

The sale and distribution of metaldehyde slug pellets will, therefore, end on June 30, 2019, and the disposal, storage and use up of existing stocks will end on June 30, 2020.

The decision to prohibit the use of metaldehyde, except in permanent greenhouses, follows advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that metaldehyde poses an “unacceptable risk” to birds and mammals.

It’s expected the ban will have a significant impact on arable farmers as slugs can cause considerable damage to plants and crops – particularly, potatoes, cereals and oilseed rape.

David Cameron, chairman of the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) – an industry-led initiative to encourage responsible use of the substance – said that the decision had been met with “great disappointment”.

He reminded growers that metaldehyde slug pellets can be applied legally this year, but must still be used responsibly.

“Growers applying metaldehyde slug pellets this autumn should adhere to best practice stewardship guidelines, while ensuring stocks are used up by June 30, 2020,” he said.

“Once again, the group would like to thank the agricultural industry for their support and investment in stewardship measures that have been adopted over the years,” he added.

Alternatives

Defra has suggested there are other ways to mitigate slug impact through soil preparation.

For example, sowing the seed deeper into the soil may prevent the slugs from reaching them. There are also alternative pesticides containing ferric phosphate without the same risks to wildlife.