On top of everything else, it is has been a complicated year for bracken control. Much of the activity has been around chemical control, and Asulam in particular, but it should not be forgotten that the Group seeks to encourage the control of bracken by every possible means.
For Asulam, two Emergency Authorisation approvals were granted during the year, and this has allowed aerial and ground-based application to continue, albeit with restrictions. Thanks to all who supported the application process.
As part of the EA approvals, the regulators asked to be provided with more information about the use of Asulam. This may seem to be excessively bureaucratic, but it can be argued that this just represents good stewardship. A hastily established system was put in place and some very useful information was provided by the end-users of Asulam. For next year, the system will be improved to make it easier to provide accurate information, but thanks to all those who made the effort to provide details this year.
The EA application to allow the use of Asulam in 2021 was submitted, at the end of October, and is being processed by the Chemicals Regulation Division of the HSE; it is likely to be reviewed by the Expert Committee on Pesticides on 9th March. It is appreciated that this will provide less notice for the contractors than ideal, but the timing has been a casualty of the complicated year.
The EA application highlights three areas that the BCG would like to see addressed:
▪ The 90m buffer for aerial spraying,
▪ The continued use of ground-based application techniques, without restriction to protected sites or land covered by an agri-environment agreement, and
▪ A review of the one-month livestock exclusion period.
▪ Letters have been sent to the four UK environment ministers to highlight the importance of bracken control, the need for agri-environment support and to provide an update about Asulam and chemical control.
▪ Additional information is being prepared to support the EA application.
▪ The research programme is continuing. Weather permitting, trials will be carried out before the end of December to establish the amount of drift from helicopter spraying operations. This work aims to provide evidence to support the discussion about the required buffer zone.
It has been an eventful year but I would like to thank everyone for their support. With best wishes for Christmas and a less eventful 2021.
The application to permit the use of Asulam for bracken control for the 2021 season was submitted to the Chemicals Registration Division of HSE, on 30 October 2020. It is likely that a response will be provided in late January or early February; this will depend on the timing of the meeting of the Expert Committee on Pesticides.
To provide background to the application, the BCG submitted some Supporting information that highlighted
the three key issues for the BCG: review of the 90m buffer zone introduced in 2020, review of the one-month exclusion period for livestock, and the maintenance of ground-based control options. The application also outlined the expanding research programme that is developing the evidence base to support the need for bracken control by all means, including chemical control with Asulam and/or other active ingredients.
For more information see the Asulam page of the website - https://www.brackencontrol.co.uk/asulam.
23Sep2020 Asulam update
The Emergency Authorisation (EA) for the application of Asulam for controlling bracken ended on 14th September. The EA continues until 31st October to allow the storage and transfer of Asulam stocks, but after this date it will be illegal to hold Asulam.
The manufacturer of Asulam (UPL Europe Ltd) will accept the return of unused, sealed containers through their distributors, but any returns should be carried out as soon as possible.
Preparations of an application for an Emergency Authorisation to cover the 2021 bracken control season are in progress and updates will be provided as the application proceeds.
Thanks to those who completed the Asulam Application Record form that provides details of the use of Asulam this year. This information will assist the application process for the EA for 2021. If anyone has yet to provide details of where Asulam was applied this year, it is not too late; please could you complete and return the form. With this information there is a better chance that the EA for 2021 will be approved.
There are three options for providing the information: the online form; completing the form on a PC/MAc in Word and returning as an e-mail attachment, or by post; download and print the form, complete it by hand and return a scanned copy or a photograph of the completed form. See: www.brackencontrol.co.uk/asulam
As it will not be possible to set up a meeting for the BCG sector representatives this year, I am proposing to set up a video call so that a discussion can take place about current bracken control issues. I will arrange this so that there will be an opportunity to consider a draft of the 2021 EA application. It is intended to submit this at the end of October.
13Aug2020 Some bracken spraying continuing
Bracken die-back has not occurred everywhere and it is proving possible to carry out some spraying in carefully selected areas. To ensure that the treatment will be effective, it is important to assess the condition of the bracken carefully before applying the treatment. Aerial and ground-based contractors will be able to advise.
11Aug2020 Bracken Die-back
Reports from around the UK have indicated that the die-back of bracken has occurred early this year, and this will limit the effectiveness of bracken control techniques. Aerial application of Asulam has ceased and anyone planning to use ground-based chemical control application is advised to check the bracken carefully beforehand. Die-back shows itself as a browning of the tips of the fronds after full-extension and in this state, the flow of nutrients, which carries the chemical into the rhizomes to restrict next year's growth, starts to reduce.
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