Simon McMunn, Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) spokesman explains how the agronomist to water company information exchange works, its importance and why agronomist support is key to its success.

“Agronomists submit short weekly reports to water companies via a simple online system,” he says.

Because metaldehyde cannot be removed easily from water at the treatment stage the information provided is invaluable to help inform decisions surrounding ‘smart abstraction’ from rivers feeding into reservoirs, during high risk periods.

“The online feedback includes the local soil conditions, progress of drilling and crop growth, reports the metaldehyde treatments that have been applied and that are planned imminently.

“The reports are then sent to water companies so they can use the information to help decide whether or not there is likely to be high concentrations of metaldehyde coming down the river. If this is the case, abstraction can be halted to ensure water is not used for drinking.”

Simon notes that agronomist input is key to the system’s success and without their support it simply wouldn’t work.

“We know from last year’s pilot that there is a huge appetite for adviser engagement. Water companies are crying out for the information so they can deliver on their legal obligation on water quality.

“We’ve already got around 50% more agronomists signed up for 2016 but there’s still a lot of scope for more support. A number of water companies will be practising smart abstraction during the autumn 2016 season, the time of year when most metaldehyde issues occur, and for this reason, the ‘Get Pelletwise! Agronomic Updates’ will be a crucial resource.

“Water companies need more information from agronomists in key counties to help them inform abstraction decisions. This is particularly important if the season turns out to be one of high slug pressure and metaldehyde treatment. As things stand, it could be a big year for slugs.

“For this reason, we’d like as many agronomists as possible to come forward and offer their support and sign up to the ‘Get Pelletwise! Agronomic Updates’ system,” concludes Simon.