It can be important to control bracken in order to protect agricultural land and conservation areas and to tackle ticks, which can carry diseases including Lyme disease. Mechanical methods such as cutting and crushing can be effective in some circumstances. Where there is a need to avoid harming other plants or the terrain does not allow access to cutting equipment, a selective herbicide, such as asulam, may be the safest and most effective method of managing bracken.
Pesticides are only authorised if the risks to people and to the environment are considered acceptable. The use of asulam to control bracken is not routinely permitted. The case for a short-term, limited and controlled authorisation is considered each year on the basis of scientific advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides. This year, asulam has been authorised for use from July to October 2017. Individual operators wishing apply asulam from the air are required to meet additional requirements under permitting arrangements administered by the Health and Safety Executive.