The UK’s water companies have joined forces to host a stand for the first time at the country’s leading technical arable event, Cereals. They are supported by the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group, and part of the ‘Slug Trail’ to earn NRoSO and BASIS points.Focussing on the issues surrounding water and the use of crop protection products, the water companies are inviting farmers and advisers to come along and find out if their land is within a drinking water catchment.“We are keen to work alongside the agricultural sector to reduce the risk of water supplies breaching standards set as part of drinking water quality regulations,” explains Dr Jodie Whitehead, Senior Catchment Management Planner at Severn Trent Water.The focus of activity within specific, higher risk water catchments is part of the companies’ remit to reduce the pressure on expensive and carbon-intensive water treatment processes. It relates to a range of pesticides that are commonly detected in watercourses.“We are working far more closely with farmers and landowners in undertaking catchment management work, and to engage with them about the issues at stake.“We have evidence that such activity can significantly cut concentrations of pesticides reaching watercourses at source.”Jodie cites metaldehyde detections in water during the two biggest slug years of recent years, 2008 and 2012, where the comparative levels were reduced by 50% in one ‘at risk’ area actively involved in a catchment management programme.The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group’s Simon McMunn explains that with 88 surface water catchments in England ‘at risk’, metaldehyde is the number one pesticide challenge for water companies.“The stewardship messages are as relevant as ever. We will soon only have two slug pellet active ingredients available to farmers, so retention of metaldehyde is critical,” he says.He adds that a ‘Slug Trail’, between the water companies’ stand and the two MSG companies represented at Cereals – Certis and DeSangosse – is an opportunity for growers, operators and advisers to test their knowledge on the issue, and to earn two NRoSO and one BASIS CPD point.The stand (C-439-4) is situated on the Environment and Research aisle, with water company representatives on hand to explain the issues and answer questions. It will also feature a replica water treatment process, a pellet applicator set-up with some ‘deliberate errors’ to spot, and a raft of maps to identify and discuss high risk water catchment areas.