£120,000 boost for targeted slug treatment research
Researchers will spend the next 18 months studying targeted treatment techniques to protect crops against slugs thanks to a £120,000 boost from AHDB.
The fresh injection of funds will help develop approaches to predict where slug patches are most likely to form in arable fields.
The new project, which is entitled ‘Development of a commercially viable and environmentally sustainable approach to slug control’, will start now and finish in April 2021.
It will also explore the potential to modify off-the-shelf technology to assist with the application of molluscicides to the most slug-prone parts of a field.
Charlotte Rowley, who manages pest research at AHDB, said: “Plans to withdraw metaldehyde-based slug pellets were derailed earlier this year, but authorisation remains fragile.
There is tremendous interest in more precise application, as it will help reduce input costs and pollution risks to watercourses. It will also increase the viability of options associated with higher treatment costs, such as ferric phosphate and biological control.
The team at Harper Adams University will build on an AHDB-funded PhD project that used radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag technology to monitor slug movements.
The student found that, despite varying in size, patches were sufficiently stable for targeted treatment. Slug patches could also be located using commonly assessed soil characteristics, according to the research.
By working with industry, the team will also identify commercially available technology that can be adapted to allow the variable application of slug treatments.
Rowley said: “This is an ambitious and exciting project that aims to develop a complete system for targeted slug treatment. Critically, the commercial viability of this system will be looked at throughout the project.”