Combinable crops and sugar beet growers who are part of the Red Tractor Assurance scheme will shortly be receiving a revised set of standards ahead of implementation in October.
Very few significant changes have been made, but growers are being advised to familiarise themselves with the amendments when their packs arrive in the post.
The process of strengthening the standards happens every three years with a cross section of the food and farming industry looking at the standards to ensure that they deliver a product that consumers demand.
A summary of the main changes are:
A new section has been introduced which only affects the small number of UK growers who irrigate their combinable crops or sugar beet. The requirements ensure that the water being used does not contaminate crops, and avoids excessive use of water.
Temporary holding of grain
To reduce the risk of contamination and grain quality being compromised, the standards now address the temporary holding of grain outside. It is only permitted in exceptional circumstances and for a maximum of five days unless a derogation has been sought. It must be kept on a concrete or impervious base and covered when not being worked.
In line with the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG) guidelines, a standard has been introduced requiring scheme members to only use Metaldehyde in a manner that reduces the risk to water, birds and small mammals.
Permanent baiting must not be routinely undertaken and baits can only be sited where evidence shows they are being continuously effective. A site survey and risk assessment of watercourses and populations of non-target species should also be carried out and recorded before treatment. This ensures assured farmers can buy professional rodenticides without further proof of competence.