Farmers in Northumberland are set to benefit from a move to tighten up the supply of specialist pesticides.
A new qualification has been introduced for people who sell deadly metallic phosphide poison – used to control rabbits, rats and moles in their burrows.
And organisers say it will help those in the farming industry ensure pest control methods are both legal and effective.
The BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection (Aluminium Phosphide for Vertebrate Control) leads to credentials that will soon become a legal requirement for suppliers.
Its introduction is the latest part of an industry drive for better stewardship of the products being overseen by the Register of Accredited Metallic Phosphide Standards (RAMPS UK).
David Cross, chairman of RAMPS UK, says it will be end-users, such as farmers, who will gain most in the long term.
He said: “New legislation means anyone using metallic phosphides must soon have a recognised certificate of competence in place.
“But sellers and suppliers will also be obliged to hold certain qualifications and manufacturers will refuse to distribute the products to those who don’t.
“So this new course is part of our ‘top-down’ approach that will tighten up the whole supply chain.
“Many farmers rely on their suppliers to provide the right products and the most up-to-date information. This qualification will enable those suppliers to demonstrate their expertise.”
Suppliers keen to meet the November 26 deadline have so far been obliged to gain the full BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection – a broader qualification covering all types of pesticide.
Now they can opt to take a stand-alone module specifically covering the use of phosphides for vertebrate control.
The courses, accredited by Harper Adams University, are being run by BASIS-approved trainers and contact details can be found at www.basis-reg.co.uk
They cover issues which include the application and safe use of the products, the activity and persistence of phosphides and the protection of non-target species.
The qualification also requires a knowledge of the RAMPS UK initiative and the ways to ensure the sustainable use of phosphide products in all market sectors.
Mr Cross added: “The new course is very specific and is only intended for those who’ll sell or give advice on the use of metallic phosphides for the control of vertebrate pests.
“It means those people don’t have to take the wider-ranging course which covers all sorts of pesticides.
“But those who sell or advise on products used in growing crops must still obtain the BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection (Agriculture, Commercial, Horticulture or Vegetables).”
Phosphine is a vitally important fumigant used to control a wide range of vertebrates which can infest stored food.
It’s the most toxic substance used for controlling pests and RAMPS UK is leading an industry initiative to establish standards of good practice.
Mr Cross said: “The purpose of RAMPS UK is to ensure all buyers, users and suppliers of these substances are aware of the implications of the new legislation. We want to ensure people take the necessary steps to enable them to continue to use or sell the substances lawfully after the deadline.”
From November 26, anyone who uses a plant protection product authorised for professional use must hold a certificate of competence approved by OfQual and CRD.