16 December - Stay alert to pesticide risks

Pesticide exposure: Horticulture continues to be a safe place to work.

In 2010-11, we did have a few incidents of pesticide exposure - 34 were herbicides, 25 fungicides and eight insecticides. Of 38 ill-health complaints, 78 per cent came from the agriculture sector and only two were in horticulture (four per cent). Crop spraying accounted for 68 per cent of complaints, weed control 18 per cent, orchard spraying six per cent and storage and amenity spraying two per cent each. The remaining four per cent occurred in other pest control situations. Of the spraying equipment recorded in these incidents, boom sprayers accounted for 60 per cent, knapsack sprayers for 12 per cent and ATVs for six per cent.

Rust: This disease can attack Mahonia 'Apollo' during December. Control with Bumper 250EC (EoA 2009-0707) or Signum (EoA 2009-1842).

Planning: Check through your spray programmes and use the HSE/CRD website (www.pesticides.gov.uk) as a reference tool for up-to-date product approvals and to download copies of extensions of authorisation. Integrating biological controls where practical next season will reduce the risk of resistance. Check growing media recipes and the amount and type of fertilisers incorporated into your choice of growing media - have they done the job this season? Consider expanding your liquid feeding programme to include supplementary feeding of plants that you know become iron, nitrogen or calcium deficient during the growing season.

Conifers: Certis Spraying Oil can be applied to plants or hedges that suffered insect damage earlier this year but avoid frost before and after application. Good foliage penetration will be required for some conifer species. Include ornamental trees and Picea in the spray programme.

Botrytis: Maintain a close watch on pot-thick, evergreen crops. Open doors and vents when temperatures allow.

Insect control: Check closely for leaf hoppers, aphids, mites and whitefly. Control by rapid knockdown products such as Majestik or SB Plant Invigorator. Avoid synthetic pyrethrins such as Decis if you are going to use biological control next year and avoid frost before and after applications.

Liverwort: Clean up liverwort on cleared growing beds by applying Mogeton, Butisan S, Chikara or products containing lenacil.


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