Industry News

Slug pellet switch scheme returns

United Utilities is offering to pay for half the cost of ferric phosphate slug pellets to farmers in its River Dee and Llangollen Canal catchments who swap from metaldehyde to the more environmentally-friendly alternative.

The move comes after the recent decision by the High Court overturned a ban on pellets containing metaldehyde.

“We were surprised that the ban on metaldehyde slug pellets was overturned,” says Dr Kate Snow, from United Utilities. “During heavy rainfall it can run off farmland and flow through field drains into watercourses and has proved to be difficult and costly to remove from raw water.

“In response we’ve decided to revive our slug pellet switch offer for farmers in our River Dee and Llangollen Canal catchments to continue to promote the use of a more environmentally-friendly, but equally effective, pesticide.

“Ferric phosphate pellets are slightly more costly, so we’re offering farmers 50% off the price and, if they’ve already bought metaldehyde, we can help them make the switch at no extra cost.”

Stick to strict stewardship guidelines

Restrictions on use of metaldehyde pellets also means many farmers have to use two different types of slug control pesticide. Switching to ferric phosphate not only helps safeguard raw water quality, it also simplifies slug pellet applications with just one product being used, she adds.

There are strict guidelines to follow when using metaldehyde which include no pellets being allowed to fall within a minimum of 10m of any field boundary or watercourse and not using them when drains are flowing or heavy rain is forecast.

Farmers in the River Dee and Llangollen Canal catchments can find out if they’re eligible for any of United Utilities’ offers by contacting catchment advisor Robert Llewellyn-Smith on 07979-350185 or emailing

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