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Get Pelletwise! Agronomic Updates system

Get Pelletwise! Agronomic Updates provide water companies across England with weekly reports that detail regional agronomic information.

The online system is quite simple in principle but the information provided is invaluable in informing decisions surrounding ‘smart abstraction’ from rivers feeding into reservoirs, during periods when metaldehyde risks are highest.

Each week, advisers signed up to the system fill in a short online report outlining the local soil conditions, progress of drilling and crop growth, reporting 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 how likely it is for there 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.

It’s all about agronomists and water companies working together to try and reduce metaldehyde exceedances, and reduce the likelihood of restrictions on use.

The Q&A below will help you to find out more about the Get Pelletwise! Agronomic Updates, including how to get involved.

Q & A

Water companies have been asking for more information about metaldehyde application timings and consider it the key piece of the jigsaw in terms of predicting high risk periods for metaldehyde in water.

Knowing when metaldehyde is being applied will enable water companies to risk assess drinking water catchments accurately and help towards reducing metaldehyde exceedances, which in turn will reduce the likelihood of use restrictions.

Cereals 2015 saw the launch of the pilot initiative on the Water UK stand. The programme’s success in 2015 and 2016 means that it is being rolled out wider for 2017.

The initiative was set up and is managed by Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG),
The initiative is supported by AIC and AICC.
85 agronomists (independent and distributor) took part in 2016 and more are being encouraged to take part this year.

Any water companies or agronomists who want to get involved in the Get Pelletwise! Agronomic Updates should contact Diane Hemming, Pinstone Communications on the following details:
Email: diane@pinstone.co.uk
Tel: 01568 617 660

Once all reports are submitted via an online platform, each Sunday evening an auto email sends the relevant reports to the water companies in PDF and CSV file format.

Every Monday, agronomists receive an auto email prompting them to submit an online report by 5pm on Friday. The online report is designed to take no more than five to 10 minutes of the agronomist’s time.

  • General
  • Field saturation %
  • Winter oilseed rape crops
    • Drilling dates
    • Growth Stage
  • Winter Wheat and Barley
    • Drilling dates
    • Growth stage
  • Slug numbers vs 2016
  • Treatment
    • Recommendations
    • % land treated
  • Verbatim comments section

The system runs from August to December, covering the main metaldehyde slug pelleting season in winter cereals.

Feedback from 2016 identified that 82% of water companies found the technical information supplied in 2016 useful.

The online system sees agronomists submitting weekly reports to water companies in quite a simple format, however the information provided is invaluable in terms of informing decisions surrounding ‘smart abstraction’ from rivers feeding into reservoirs, during periods when metaldehyde risks are highest.

Each advisor fills in a short online report outlining the local soil conditions, progress of drilling and crop growth, reporting 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.

However, not all water companies signed up to the system will be using the reports to practice abstraction management as they might not have reservoirs. In this case, it’s more about having as much information as possible and providing an internal warning that a treated water failure is more likely because they know metaldehyde is being applied.

It helps demonstrate to regulators that water companies are doing all that is possible to understand our catchment and the nature of the problem. All of which might help identify solutions.