Metaldehyde ban: Alternatives event planned for north-east farmers

With the ban on UK growers’ favourite slug control method  – metaldehyde – coming into force next spring, Soil Association Scotland is inviting farmers to find out how to use the best alternative – ferric phosphate.

“Ferric phosphate is more expensive, so you don’t want to waste it,” explained Dr. Andy Evans, pest management researcher at SRUC, who will be leading the morning session.

“Research has shown it’s as effective as metaldehyde,” he said. “But only if it’s used in the right way. It’s not just a straight swap.

Timing is really important; you need to use it when slugs are likely to be coming out – when it rains, basically. So you need to watch the weather forecast.

“There are different timings for different plants, so with potatoes, for example, you need to put the pellets down just before the crop canopies meet across the rows, so the pellets get to the base of the plant instead of bouncing off.

“With ferric phosphate costing around £15/ha, you don’t want to be scattering it like confetti, to no effect.”

Metaldehyde ban

Though still used in Europe, metaldehyde has been banned in the UK because it harms wildlife and gets into the water system.

Attendees will find out about Scottish Water’s Drinking Water Protection Scheme, which will pay for the difference in switching to ferric phosphate for farmers in the River Ugie catchment.

Jared Stewart, Scottish Water’s Sustainable Land Management Team technical lead said: “We recognise that ferric phosphate has been shown to be just as effective as metaldehyde but much less harmful to human health.”

Soil Association Scotland’s farming and land use manager Patrick Laurie added: “Farmers will be able to discuss with Andy how they control slugs just now and how they can switch to ferric phosphate in a way that will most benefit their farming system. We’ll also look at managing soil to reduce the impact of slugs.”

The event will take place at Mintlaw Public Hall, Aberdeenshire on Thursday, April 25 from 10:00am until 1:00pm.

The event is free to farmers and land managers and also includes lunch. Places should be booked online at: http://bit.ly/slugpatrol.