Farmers in Northumberland are being advised of a five-point plan of action to help them to manage slugs on their land in a more environmentally friendly manner in 2017.

The guidance has come from Northumbrian Water’s Pestiwise programme, which has been designed to encourage people working near or around rivers in the Northumberland area, especially farmers, to help improve water quality and meet environmental standards.

At a recent event held by Northumbrian Water’s Catchment Team on Pesti-wise in the Whittle Dene Catchment; farmers, landowners, estate managers and agronomists were able to learn more about the Pesti-wise initiative in Whittle Dene.

The evening provided advice and solutions, focusing on reducing the amount of pesticides, nutrients, bacteria and sediments entering raw water in the catchment. Pesti-wise offers grant funded equipment, which helps minimise pesticide run-off and support sustainable agriculture and a Horstine TMA4 precision applicator was on display at the event – which was part funded through the scheme.

By working together with farmers, Northumbrian Water is keen to reduce levels of pesticide that enter watercourses and this includes helping farmers to modernise their operations and equipment.

Catchment advisors are recommending farmers take the following steps:

• Minimise slug risk. Use an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. Reduce trash after crop clearance and roll the land to consolidate seedbeds.
• Always trap slugs first, to assess their numbers using a non-toxic bait such as chicken layers mash. This allows the real level of any problem to be assessed and managed appropriately, rather than acting on an assumption of a significant quantity of slugs.
• Wherever possible, consider the use of ferric phosphate pellets rather than a metaldehyde-based pellet.
• If metaldehyde-based pellets are to be used, farmers should be sure to stay within the recommended dose limits. The maximum total dose from 1st August to 31st December is 210g metaldehyde active substance per hectare. The statutory limit is a maximum total dose rate of 700g metaldehyde active substance per hectare per calendar year.
• Do not apply pellets when heavy rain is forecast or if drains are already flowing. Metaldehyde-based pellets must not be applied within ten metres of a watercourse.

Northumbrian Water′s Catchment Advisor, Jamie Jasinski said: “It’s important to assess the extent of the problem before addressing it, and to tackle the issue of slugs in a way that is good for the wider environment. By following the five points, farmers can improve their own slug management and help to keep our water at the highest quality standard possible.”

Farmers in the target catchment of Whittle Dene can also apply for grants of up to £15,000 which would cover up to 75% of the cost of precision slug pellet spreading equipment.

Advice and guidance is also being offered through the five-year programme, to help farmers make a significant contribution to the work in a way that also benefits them. Pestiwise offers support including assessments of current pesticide use, management and handling, guidance and solutions to reduce pesticide entering water, training, and more.

For more information about pestiwise or any other information, please contact Jamie Jasinski by email or alternatively visit our website