Using low 1.5% active substance metaldehyde pellets this spring in potatoes will allow growers to use multiple applications whilst keeping well within the Stewardship Guidelines and keeping back the opportunity for autumn application in following crops, says Dr. Dominic Lamb representing Chiltern Farm Chemicals. Potato growers know only too well the problems that slugs present. Potatoes are usually susceptible to slug damage from before canopy closure and at the early stages of bulking. They enter the tuber and cause holes on the surface and deeper in the tissue, thereby affecting both yield and quality. Growers need to monitor crops carefully and if necessary apply slug pellets.Dominic says that potato growers could now elect to use the unique wet type 1.5% metaldehyde pellet up to 8 times at the dose rate of 4 kg/ha and still allow 3 applications on following wheat crops, whilst keeping within the legal limit of 700 g active substance /ha of metaldehyde in a calendar year set by the Metaldehyde Stewardship Guidelines. “Mathematically 8 applications of 1.5% TR3799 pellets from Chiltern delivers a total of 480 g as/ha of metaldehyde. It means that growers can keep easily within the maximum application rate of 210 as/ha metaldehyde from the 1st August up to the 31st December.”Dr. Dominic Lamb explains that the 1.5% TR3799 pellet from Chiltern is the only low dose metaldehyde pellet commercially available and that it is specially formulated to work at much lower rates. “You obviously don’t want to put on low dose metaldehyde and it not work as well. But these pellets are designed and proven to work even better than the standard 3% pellets. The pellets are finely milled and coated, so that you need just 37µg to kill a slug, compared with 205µg of the standard metaldehyde. In effect they are 5 times as effective at killing slugs as the standard. The special formulation works at lower rates and has the benefit of being less risk to water.”Growers must be assured that the low dose pellets does present less risk. “Computer modelling shows the less metaldehyde applied per hectare, the less gets into the watercourses. Rate for rate it follows that a 3% pellet has the potential to leach twice as much metaldehyde as a 1.5% product, so why would a grower want to take this risk?”“Advisors and growers really have to go for the most active pellet that delivers the most baiting points at the lowest active ingredient levels. It seems to me to be a very straight forward decision. The Chiltern TR 1.5% wet process range at 4kg/ha delivers 60 grams metaldehyde per hectare and 80 baiting points/square metre,” says Dominic.“Chiltern’s grasp of the problems surrounding the continued use of metaldehyde coupled with their unique manufacturing process will ensure that we have an unsurpassed range of products to offer potato growers and others this spring,” he says.