Friday, 16 October 2020

Bracken Briefings

This series of briefings has been developed by the Bracken Control Group to set out the current thinking on topics relating to bracken control. The briefings will be updated to reflect other views and other information as it becomes available.

Feedback on the contents will be welcomed - see below.

The following briefings are available from the website:
  1. Overview of Bracken Control
  2. Regulation of the use of Asulam
  3. Highlights from the Emergency Authorisation Application for 2020 
  4. Area of Bracken Controlled
    • the threat from bracken expansion and 
    • the increasing threat from tick-borne diseases.
  5. Bracken - a growing risk - 2
    • Tick control options
    • Future developments on tick control
  6. The Impact of Bracken Control on Tick Activity
    • The linkage between bracken cover and tick populations.
    • Reducing the amount cover, by bracken control, reduces the tick population
  7. Bracken Encroachment into Peatland
    • Reports on the monitoring of bracken spread into peatland habitat
    • The rate of encroachment is increasing
  8. Negative Impacts of Bracken on Human and Animal Health
    • Sets out the four main impacts associated with bracken.
    • Summarises the key tick-borne diseases.
  9. Ragwort
    • Some description of the plants properties, the risks to livestock and management considerations
  10. Adjuvants for use with Asulam
    • Extract from HSE's Official List that authorises eight adjuvants for use with Asulam.
  11. Product Efficacy & Safety Summaries
    • Outline of proposal to produce a summary of different products.

Please use the comment function below to provide your views about any of the issues covered in this blog post or in the briefings.  Alternatively, feedback can be provided using the contact form on the BCG website.

Revised: 19 October 2020 

Monday, 9 December 2019

Asulam - Emergency Authorisation 2020

First Emergency Authorisation for 2020
An application for an eighth, consecutive Emergency Authorisation to cover the use of Asulam for bracken control in the 2020 season was submitted in July 2019.  A draft approval was issued in November 2019, and the final, unchanged approval was issued in May 2020.  

Two restrictions were included in the approval that caused concern:
  • application of Asulam by helicopter only - application from hand-held or ground-based equipment had not been authorised.
  • for aerial spraying, the required buffer zone against surface water bodies was increased from 50m to 90m; this increased the area of bracken that cannot be sprayed significantly. 
There were concerns about the impact these restrictions would have on the commercial activity of the aerial and ground-based contractors who provide a bracken control service. The restrictions would also impact on the landowners and land managers who would seek to control bracken to protect their land from invasive bracken and the business enterprises that rely on bracken free land. 

Also, there were concerns that the restrictions will make it difficult or impossible for holders of grant agreements to complete the bracken control work they have committed to carrying out.

A briefing and questionnaire was circulated to capture views; it is available online.

Second Emergency Authorisation for 2020
As a result of the above concerns, further discussion took place with the authorities, which led to an additional application for an Emergency Authorisation for the 2020 season being submitted in April.  This provided information that was not available when the original application was submitted in July 2019.  The application argued for the reinstatement of ground-based application of Asulam and for the buffer zone to protect surface bodies to revert to 50m.  

The application was approved in part: ground-based application was approved on land that forms part of a designated site or that was subject to an agri-environment agreement that includes chemical control of bracken.  The request to reduce the buffer zone was turned down.

A further change was introduced in the second authorisation.  Since the first Emergency Authorisation was granted for the 2013 season, the maximum concentration of Asulam that could be applied by hand-held equipment was restricted to 1:100.  As a result of the amount of water that would need to be carried at this concentration to achieve the required dose of 11 lit/ha (10 lit/ha in forestry), this restriction had the effect of preventing the use of hand-held equipment for small scale treatments and follow-up after primary treatment by helicopter or ground machinery.  This change opens up the possibility to use a wider range fo equipment for hand-held chemical control of Asulam and further guidance about this is under consideration.

Emergency Authorisation for 2021
An application, to be submitted at the end of October 2020, is in draft.  This will address the aerial buffer zone, and ground-based application and also argue for a change to the livestock exclusion provisions.  The requirement for exclusion is a significant issue on common or crofting land, due to the shared occupancy of the land.  See the latest Bracken Briefing that considers the origins of the requirement for exclusion.

Please use the comment function below to provide your views about any of the issues covered in this blog post or in the briefings.  Alternatively, feedback can be provided using the contact form on the BCG website.

Revised: 16 October 2020