Use slug pellets less or risk ban, gardeners warned

The industry has been warned to adhere to revised guidelines on the use of metaldehyde or risk an outright product ban.

The NFU urged its members to use slug pellets only as a last resort because a ban would seriously harm the industry.

NFU combinable crops board chairman Ian Backhouse said: "There are no magic solutions on the horizon here. Slug control is vital on many soil types and metaldehyde accounts for around 85 per cent of the current market.

"Although there are limited alternative products available, they would not be able to meet the gap in the market. There should be a campaign to make sure that domestic users are aware of the dangers. Domestic users should take as much responsibility as professional users."

NFU chief horticultural adviser Phil Hudson reiterated the comments. "There's a responsibility that comes right across all users of these products, particularly with the increase in the grow-your-own trend," he said.

"With the production of these products comes the responsibility of ensuring good practice and I think the same disciplines should apply to both amateurs and professionals."

HTA director of business management Tim Briercliffe was keen to defend gardeners, pointing out that the main responsibility lies with farmers.

He said: "We think that amateur gardeners and garden centres are a minor part of this issue. Garden retailers and consumers are taking this very seriously and the use of alternatives has been rising."

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