Metaldehyde Ban Presents Huge Challenge to Scottish Growers

Slug control options strictly limited to costlier alternatives

A ban on the most-commonly used slug control product, metaldehyde, in 18 months’ time will present a major challenge to Scottish growers.

Slugs are a major pest of crops such as oilseed rape, cereals and potatoes.

Defra has announced that a ban on the outdoor use of metaldehyde is to be introduced across Great Britain from Spring 2020.

The UK Government decision to ban it has been taken to protect wildlife.  It will restrict those growing crops susceptible to slugs in GB to costlier ferric-based products.

However, metaldehyde has been re-authorised for use in most other EU member states as well as other non-EU countries, handing a competitive advantage to food producers exporting to GB.

 NFU Scotland Policy Manager Andrew Midgley said: “The arsenal of plant protection products available to Scottish growers to produce clean, healthy, disease-free crops continues to narrow.  

“Metaldehyde’s potential impact on wildlife and watercourses has been recognised by the industry and farmers are acutely aware of the need to minimise its impact on the environment. In autumn 2017, the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group enhanced its guidelines to improve protection of watercourses and minimise the risk to wildlife.

“Disappointingly, this ban has come before figures on reduced metaldehyde use and water quality can be analysed.  At the same time, the product remains widely available to farmers and growers across the EU and beyond.

“Unchecked, slugs can significantly damage crops of cereals, potatoes, brassicas and oilseed rape.  Without metaldehyde, protection products to tackle slugs are narrowed down to ferric-based ones.  The cost per kilo is broadly comparable between the two, but ferric-products require significantly higher application rates, almost doubling the cost per hectare of slug control.

“That is an additional cost unlikely to be recovered by Scottish growers from the marketplace.”  


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 181/18

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John L Picken

1130 days ago

More nonesense from the environment lobby this time coming from DEFRA. We have little defence from slugs and yet they are the most destructive pest especially when in warm wet conditions. I had hoped that Brexit might have delivered better regulation but here is the first example of jobsworth decisions continuing. What are we to do with the old regulators in DEFRA Why not task them with doing something positive instead of destructive to industry. Something like create some jobs in production and being useful like plastic recycling plants.
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