Seminars to boost pellet training

The need for more legally qualified slug pelleting operators to help bring down the UK's metaldehyde levels has prompted the launch of a series of new training seminars.

The seminars, led by the NPTC, start this month and are taking place across the country until January 2010. They aim to give growers practical measures to ensure that they are handling and applying the pellets correctly.

Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) chairman Dr David Cameron said there is an urgent need for more qualified operators as unacceptable levels of metaldehyde have been found in surface water destined for drinking supplies.

"The cloud looming over the future of metaldehyde slug pellets has not gone away," he warned. "Only by lowering the metaldehyde levels detected in raw water by the water companies can we show that we can use slug pellet pesticides responsibly."

He added that every operator applying slug pellets should hold the PA4 qualification.

"It is essential that no one who is untrained, including those who hold only a PA2 certificate (issued after June 1994), goes out pelleting. That also applies to those born prior to 1965 where operations can be legally made under 'grandfather rights' who must still have been trained."

For those with an existing PA2 certificate (post 1994), a new PA4S certificate will be issued to those attending and then passing the post-seminar exam.

It is also an opportunity for those already legally qualified (holders of PA1 and with PA4 or PA2 gained before June 1994) to update their knowledge on slug pelleting practice. They will receive a PA4S certificate to prove attendance and passing the exam. City & Guilds NPTC senior manager Steve Hewitt added that, while seminars are starting now, the second phase of the new training plans will begin in January next year when the new PA4S unit formally becomes part of all PA4 operator training, which previously omitted the slug pelleting programme.

"This means that while those with existing PA certificates can take immediate advantage of gaining the PA4S unit for life, those with no previous training must still achieve the PA1," he explained.

"And if those previously untrained operators then attend and pass the slug pelleting seminar and exam they can go on to legally apply slug pellets but only until July 2011. After that date the new PA4S practical assessment must also have been completed."

- For detail of seminar dates growers can visit to contact their local training provider or distributor.

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