New! Information on the lifting of the suspension of aminopyralid approvals

The approval of the Dow AgroSciences herbicide, aminopyralid, has been reinstated by ministers on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

The move lifts a voluntary suspension of approval for sales and use which the company sought in July 2008 after sensitive crops on some allotments and gardens were affected by manure containing traces of the herbicide.

Aminopyralid is a highly effective weedkiller for professional users. It is valued by farmers seeking to control pernicious and poisonous weeds such as ragwort, thistles and docks in pasture. In specific formulations it also has the potential to control invasive weeds, such as Japanese knotweed, in amenity areas and industrial sites. 

Since sales and use were suspended, farmers have campaigned for the product's return because of the high levels of longlasting weed control aminopyralid-based products offer. Those who have used the product since its launch in 2006 saw improved pasture and enjoyed increased output from their fields, compared to that offered by other products on sale to control weeds in grassland.

Dow AgroSciences, however, has always insisted that it would not seek to reintroduce aminopyralid before ways were found that minimised the risk of any repeat of the unfortunate incidents of the past two seasons.

The active ingredient will be re-introduced with new recommendations and a stringent stewardship programme devised to prevent inadvertent movement of manure from farms. Key to this is the requirement that products containing aminopyralid are only applied to land that will be grazed by cattle or sheep; not land where forage will be conserved. This requirement aims to ensure manure generated from treated grassland remains on the pasture. Problems have arisen when conserved forage from treated pasture  was fed to housed livestock and manure created in large quantities.

Supporting these new recommendations is an enhanced stewardship package which will require  anyone  supplying or advising on the use of aminopyralid to be re-trained in the details of product use. Those applying, or using, products containing aminopyralid are required to confirm in writing that they have been instructed on product use and manure management issues. These records form part of a user traceability system.

The new stewardship requirements are stringent. We believe they will mitigate against manure leaving farms where aminopyralid has been used and so help to  safeguard against repeats of sensitive crops being affected.
The changes to how aminopyralid products will be used and the associated stewardship plan should allay concerns amongst gardeners and allotment holders over using manure. However, it remains good practice to know the provenance of any manure as other materials can contaminate manure .

Speaking for farmers, NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: "We are pleased to see the suspension on the use of aminopyralid lifted. Many grassland farmers have found this a particularly valuable product in improving grassland and controlling pernicious weeds, such as ragwort and thistle.

"However, it is clear that those recommending and using the products have a duty to follow the stringent new label instructions. Not only is it a legal obligation, but important for the reputation of the industry."