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Unapproved pesticides not worth the risk

Arable farmers are reminded to check carefully that they only use approved herbicides this autumn and that enforcement agencies are on the alert for illegal use.

Over the past couple of seasons, there has been a considerable change in approved products with old favourites, such as isoproturon and trifluralin, losing their approval, says Voluntary Initiative Manager Patrick Goldsworthy.

While the autumn is an extremely busy time, taking a detailed stock check of the chemical store is worthwhile to avoid possible prosecution for having such products in store or penalties under cross-compliance or assurance schemes. It is also illegal to apply such products.

James Clarke of ADAS and Chairman of the Pesticides Forum warns that not only can agrochemicals be readily detected in water, but that pinpointing where any detectable residues came from would be a relatively simple exercise for regulators.

Looking upstream in any catchment, where the legal limits on pesticide concentration have been exceeded, will point to fields where it is likely that applications have been made, says Mr Clarke. Soil samples could be used to detect levels of herbicides and, for example, if IPU were present it would be very easy to establish if the concentrations found are from application in the past year.

Product approval status and use up dates should be discussed with an agronomist. Alternatively, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate website provides an easy way to check whether any product on farm is approved for use and/ or storage. Where products are no longer approved, farmers should dispose of them using an authorised waste disposal contractor. Details of such contractors are available at

  • The sponsors of the Voluntary Initiative are the Agricultural Engineers Association, Agricultural Industries Confederation, Country Land and Business Association, Crop Protection Association, National Association of Agricultural Contractors, the NFU, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers Union.
  • The England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative (ECSFDI) is a partnership project between Defra, Environment Agency and Natural England which offers advice and support to farmers to reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture. For further information see

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