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Growers and gangmasters are being reminded to ensure they stick to safety guidelines protecting workers who pull bolters and weed beet from sugar beet... Follow safety guidelines when hand-roguing beet

Growers and gangmasters are being reminded to ensure they stick to safety guidelines protecting workers who pull bolters and weed beet from sugar beet crops.

Bayer introduced worker safety guidelines following applications of its sugar beet sprays in 2018. Although voluntary, the advice is seen as an important way of helping to ensure spray products are used responsibly and remain available to growers.

“We are continually reviewing and revising the protocols that guide product use and safeguard users to promote best practice,” explains Lizzie Carr-Archer, the firm’s campaign manager for root crops.

“Within this context, we are re-stating the stewardship guidelines that protect users and the environment from exposure to crop protection products within the context of ever-changing industry practice.”

Hand-roguing remains one of the best ways to ensure a clean beet crop. Weed beet rather than bolting is usually the main problem. With up to 1500 seeds, each plant could produce much more weed beet in a following crop.

Plants harbour pests and diseases, compete for moisture, nutrients and light – reducing crop yields. In the worst cases, doing nothing risks having to give up growing beet on the field in question within four or five rotations.

The guidelines specify timescales and clothing requirements for workers hand-pulling bolters and weed beet. Where this has not been completed before spraying, workers are reminded that they should not re-enter the field within 48-hours of spraying.

Thereafter – and up to 10 days after spraying – pulling can be continued by workers wearing appropriate protective work wear. This includes boots, gloves and long trousers which should be waterproof if the crop is wet.

From 10 days after spraying, there are no requirements, says Mrs Carr-Archer. The guidelines do not apply to those visiting sugar beet crops for short periods such as agronomists when crop walking.