13th September 2018
The pros and cons of metaldehyde
CHAP CEO, Fraser Black, speaks at the Metaldehyde Conference 2018, held at NAFIC in Sand Hutton. The conference welcomed researchers and representatives from water boards and industry with a shared passion to reduce the quantity of the commonly used metaldehyde molluscicide reaching the environment whilst improving slug control strategies in agriculture.
The event organised by Newcastle University and the Institute for Agri-Food Research and Innovation (IAFRI) highlighted the pros and cons associated with metaldehyde from the viewpoints of farmers, water board members and scientists, but also demonstrated how the three sectors are managing to work both independently and together to reduce (or even remove) the environmental impact of this pesticide.
Tom Bradshaw, farmer and Chairperson of the NFU Crops Board, provided invaluable first-hand insight into the use of metaldehyde and other integrated pest management strategies on his family-run farm, whilst Richard Reynolds (Anglian Water) and Alexandra Cooke (Severn Trent Water) described the promising schemes and incentives set up by their respective water companies to work with farmers in reducing/removing the need for metaldehyde in their farming practices. In addition, John Haley (Yorkshire Water and UKWIR) discussed the work conducted by UKWIR in collaboration with organisations, including ADAS, to use satellite remote sensory techniques for developing national pesticide risk maps, to help identify areas of high pesticide risk to catchment waters. By generating such information, and maintaining good communication networks with stakeholders and farmers, they hope to promote better use of metaldehyde (and other pesticides and farming practices) in areas surrounding water systems.
From the scientific research point of view, the identification of microbes that can metabolise metaldehyde and use it as a carbon and energy source was certainly very exciting and the day included presentations from both York and Newcastle Universities.
In summary, the day was extremely insightful, provided lots of ‘food for thought,’ and hopefully will result in the formation of several collaborative projects.