Slug pellets containing metaldehyde will be phased out for outdoor use by March 2022, following an announcement from farming Minister Victoria Prentis.
This confirms that the sale and distribution of existing stocks will not be permitted beyond 31 March 2021, with a further year granted for the use-up period (to 31 March 2022).
The news follows a government announcement in December 2018 that metaldehyde would be withdrawn; only for the decision to be reversed after a legal challenge and high court ruling in August 2019 that saw the previous expiry dates reinstated.
DEFRA has cited that pesticides containing ferric phosphate can provide effective control without carrying the same risks to wildlife and note the role of alternative methods of pest control. These include cultural techniques like planting slug resistant crop varieties, selectively timing irrigation and harvest and sowing seeds more deeply into the soil.
The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) spearheaded a decade long campaign to promote responsible use of metaldehyde slug pellets.
MSG chairman David Cameron says that although we are now seeing the loss of metaldehyde from the market, the stewardship initiative played an enormously important role.
“The campaign started in 2008 when metaldehyde first came to the attention of water companies. This was at a time when the alternative treatment to control slugs – the UK’s most devastating pest – was not yet available.
“Pesticide stewardship has now gained a vital place in supporting the agricultural sector,” he asserts.
In the period prior to the withdrawal dates coming into effect, the MSG reiterates that metaldehyde products should be used in accordance with their labels and that Get Pelletwise best practice guidelines must be followed, which can be found here: https://www.getpelletwise.co.uk/how-you-can-help/