Farmers and agronomists across the country have been warned to take particular care in their use of glyphosate and other widely available agrochemical actives from this season, following the significant tightening of cross-compliance policing by the Rural Payments Agency.
Instead of issuing warning letters for the majority of first time breaches of Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) or Good Agricultural & Environmental Condition (GAEC) rules as it has done to date, the RPA will be levying 3% Single Farm Payment reductions for most non-compliances discovered in its 2009 random farm spot checks.
“SMR9 – requiring the use of only UK-approved plant protection products strictly in accordance with the label – should be of particular concern to growers and their advisers in this respect,” warns Monsanto stewardship specialist, Manda Sansom.
“A significant number of breaches have been recorded in this regulation over the past two years and technical failures to comply with label usage are classified as of at least medium severity, liable for SFP reductions of 3-5% in the official RPA 2009 Reduction Matrix.
“Actives like glyphosate are especially vulnerable to SMR9 breaches through negligence rather than intention (which is far more heavily penalised) because they are available as many different products all with different labels,” she points out.
“Not only do glyphosate products come in a range of different salts and active ingredient loadings, they vary widely in their surfactant formulations and loadings – all of which have a direct bearing on their approvals and permitted usage.
“For instance, label restrictions limit the vast majority of generic glyphosates to one application in a situation or year, so they can’t be used in multiple stale seedbeds, or even for spraying the same stubble in both autumn and spring.
“Equally, many products are not approved for pre-cutting in grassland, and high rate perennial weed control use ahead of sugar beet and potatoes is not permitted for most generic glyphosates either. Nor can the bulk be used post-planting, pre-emergence or in mixtures with residual herbicides.
“As with other widely available off-patent actives, all glyphosates are manifestly not the same,” insists Manda Sansom. “And tighter cross-compliance policing means no one can afford to ignore this.
“If you wish to avoid falling foul of RPA penalties in the coming season, as well as preserving maximum future agrochemical access for our farming industry in an increasingly restrictive European environment, you simply must read the label and apply it to the letter in your spraying practice.”
Full details of all Roundup labels and practical guidance on the best, most cost-effective glyphosate usage are available at www.monsanto-ag.co.uk
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