Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Bracken Control - Briefing

Aerial application in progress
This briefing will be presented to the Moorland Forum during the meeting on 31 October.

Following the ending of the approval to use Asulam for bracken control on 31 December 2012, arrangements have been put in place each year to allow asulam to be available for bracken control under the terms of an Emergency Authorisation (EA) granted by the Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health & Safety Executive (CRD).

A Bracken Control Group was established in 2012 to promote the control of bracken by any means, but also to oversee the application for an EA. The Heather Trust coordinates this Group. The continued availability of Asulam for bracken control cannot be guaranteed, but the Bracken Control Group is working with all parts of the bracken control community to promote the importance of being able to control this invasive species.

The long-term aim is to achieve the registration of Asulam for bracken control under the latest EU regulations. Registration is an expensive process that requires an investment of many £100,000s, and it takes a long time. The application has been submitted, but a response from the EU is not expected until December 2016. Therefore, to maintain the availability of asulam, EAs will be required up to and including 2017. To date, no concerns have been expressed by the regulators to approving this number of authorisations.

As part of the review of asulam carried out by CRD, the previous uses of asulam were investigated. It had been common practice to use small doses of asulam at high concentrations for follow-up treatment, and this could be applied by a spot gun or even a knapsack sprayer. However, there was not enough data available to prove that this approach did not exceed operator exposure thresholds. Also, it became apparent that some of the recognised asulam application techniques, such as the use of a drift sprayer, or a weed-wiper had not been fully assessed. As a result of this, approval for follow-up treatment under the EAs has only been given for hand-held equipment when using Asulam at low concentrations, and the two application techniques have not been included in the EA approvals. The Bracken Control Group is working with the industry to investigate better methods for follow-up treatment that could be approved by CRD.

The Bracken Control Group has a website (www.brackencontrol.co.uk) that provides more detail of the current state of bracken control. A newsletter is published, which has a sign up option for anyone wanting to know more about any developments that affect bracken control. The EA for 2015 has been applied for, and it is hoped to be able to announce the result of the application soon.

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