Thursday, November 15, 2018

Water companies value agronomists’ support

September 3, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

More agronomists are needed for an initiative which helps water companies help keep residues from metaldehyde slug pellets out of rivers and streams.

The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group’s Get Pelletwise! Agronomic Updates system is now entering its fourth season – and has been championed by many agronomists and helped water companies make informed decisions on abstraction.

Thames Water catchment projects manager Joanna Clint said: “Each year we spend a lot of time deciding when to abstract water from our rivers and watercourses because of the difficulty in anticipating metaldehyde levels.”

Dr Clint added: “The weekly reporting system, that collates the short reports filled in by participating agronomists on slug pellet treatments recommended during the week, really helps us to make an informed decision.”

Autumn is an important time because water companies replenish reservoir levels to ensure water stocks are available for the coming year. This coincides with slug pellet usage, so knowing the timing of applications is extremely valuable.

“Information on ground conditions can be extremely helpful,” said Dr Clint. “For example, if we know that soil is about to meet saturation point, and slug pelleting is taking place, then we can establish that there is a higher risk of metaldehyde entering watercourses.”

There are currently over 90 agronomists signed up to the system. But, some counties are still under-represented, agronomists across the country are being urged to sign up, particularly those advising in high risk water catchment areas.

Dr Clint said: “Last year we received comments explaining that significant damage had been caused by cabbage stem flea beetle. This meant that growers would be looking to minimise the damage from slugs even more than usual to help reduce the risk of further losses.

“We were able to plan for this by being aware that more slug pellets would be applied than otherwise anticipated. It’s information like this, that we wouldn’t normally receive, that’s important as it helps us to correctly inform our abstraction teams about when it’s best to abstract.”

For details about the initiative, visit www.getpelletwise.co.uk.

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