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A top three of practical pointers relating to spread pattern, bout width and dose rate were being highlighted to slug pellet operators by the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) at Cereals 2011.
Speaking at the event, the MSG’s Colin Myram explained that whilst accurate spreading of slug pellets with a quad bike mounted applicator can be difficult to achieve, there are ways to ensure pellets are more evenly distributed and reach the desired spread per square metre.
“Using 24 metre tramlines as markers for spreading slug pellets has been the norm,” he commented. “But, that should change. Our MSG research has shown that, even under ideal conditions, it is not possible to accurately spread slug pellets to 24 metres, regardless of product or applicator used.”
Rob Foxall of Spreader and Sprayer Testing demonstrated how halving the bout width can significantly improve accuracy. “Operators spreading to 24 metres will find that land at the outer reaches of the spread width receive a less even spread pattern than pellets landing closer to the quad bike.
“This is can be resolved by adjusting the applicator to a 12 metre spread and travelling at 12 metre bouts, using half the rate of slug pellets,” said Rob. While the pelleting operation will take longer, MSG maintains that it is worthwhile if access to metaldehyde slug pellets continues.
Colin Myram added that with significant variation between slug pellet products, either a tray test or visual assessment after the first run is important to assess the spread pattern and width of spread. “Accuracy is more important than ever. We are in a situation where it is an absolute necessity not to exceed maximum dose rate guidelines due to the water issues associated with metaldehyde, so it is important not to use more than necessary to achieve control.”
The MSG’s total dose rate guidelines are unchanged for this autumn. They set a maximum total application rate of 210g/ha, but on the recommendation of a BASIS qualified advisor this can be reduced to 160g/ha or less for metaldehyde based slug pellets applied between 1 August and 31 December. A 6 metre no spread zone must be employed adjacent to watercourses.
Another component of the Pelleting Precision initiative is to make the maximum dose rates more meaningful to operators using different % metaldehyde products. Colin explains that the amount of metaldehyde applied will vary according to product and weight. “Taking a typical rate of 5kg/ha as an example, that translates to a single treatment applying 75g of metaldehyde with a 1.5% slug pellet; 150g with a 3% pellet; and 200g with a 4% pellet.”