Under previous EU Set aside rules pesticide application timings were restricted by calendar dates. Under the BPS there is no requirement for set-aside but there are situations where land is left non-cropped both as Fallow land under the Crop Diversification Rule and as Ecological Focus Areas, (EFA) under the Greening component of the BPS. There are also limitations under cross compliance and under ongoing stewardship schemes like ELS and CFE where the timing of sprays can be dictated by calendar dates. Overwintered stubbles options are sometimes avoided by farmers because they feel it will not be possible to get good enough control of troublesome weeds like Black-grass. For example over wintered stubbles, (OWS) can be sprayed after 15th February and extended OWS only after 15th May. These notes explain the main changes from older schemes and how the use of Roundup is affected by them.
ROUNDUP RELEVANT NEW RULES, 2015:
- The previous scheme GAEC 11(Control of weeds) and GAEC 12 (Land not in agricultural production) have been removed altogether so general BPS eligibility dictates only that the land be kept clear of dense scrub.
- GAEC1 (replaces GAEC 14 and 19) buffer strips near watercourse. Herbicides should not be used on the 2m buffer strips except in establishing new ones, but they can be spot treated for weeds as before under GAEC14. However without the specification only for weeds designated injurious under the Weeds Act 1959 or listed invasive non-native species.
- GAEC4 Minimum soil cover. Requirement to take all reasonable steps to maintain soil cover allowing all types of vegetative cover including from previous crop residues. However acceptable agronomic reasons for not maintaining a cover include seedbed preparation with sowing planned within 14 days, the control of weeds or land exposed to frost overwinter to assist in seedbed creation. This means use of Roundup to control weeds can be an agronomic justification.
- GAEC7a Boundaries (was GAEC13,14 & 15 under old rules) Concerns taking all reasonable steps to maintain a green cover on land within 2m of the centre of hedgerows (>5 yrs old). Spot application for weed control is allowed as GAEC1
- The previous SMR 9 relating to Plant Protection Products has been replaced by SMR10 which requires the user to follow the Code of Practice for using PPP, use only UK approved products/parallel imports and that use meets the conditions and rules on the product label and any permits/authorisations. The requirement for Sustainable and integrated use has been removed.
- Under any of the GAECs and SMR’s growers can use herbicides to control weed infestations without written permission as long as they can prove why they were required if they are inspected.
- Fallow land can count as a crop under crop diversification greening as long as it is fallow between 1st May and 30th June. It must be maintained in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation and there is no restriction on the use of herbicides.
- Fallow land for EFA must be fallow from 1st January to 30th June. Herbicides are allowed to control weeds and indeed pollen and nectar mixes or grass can be also be sown as long the grass is not harvested during the fallow period.
Both these options allow for farmers to use Roundup to tackle Black-grass in problem areas. A minimum of 1080g/ha should be applied on either tillered plants in early spring OR flowering plants, usually in early June, avoiding the stem extension phase in April and early May.
Similarly applications to control other annual grasses and perennial weeds should be timed to avoid stem extension for optimum efficacy.
The use of Roundup on Fallow land is covered by the label field of use called ’Green cover on land not being used for crop production, e.g set aside’ and up to 2160g/ha can be applied annually, either in one dose or split according to weed size and species.
Once cultivation in preparation for the next crop starts a further Roundup application of up to 1800g/ha is permitted under the field of use ‘All edible and non-edible crops before sowing/planting.’