The Northern Ireland Agricultural Research and Development Council, commonly known as AgriSearch, will host a webinar on Thursday, March 10, to highlight the issue that leatherjackets pose for grassland managers.

Leatherjackets (the larvae of crane fly) feed on roots and stems of grass or cereal plants and can cause significant damage from loss of yield and the presence of large, bare patches.

New leys and grass reseed in particular, can be devastated if leatherjackets are not controlled and with chemical control substances no longer available, a significant challenge has risen.

The webinar, beginning at 8:00p.m, will commence with Prof. Rod Blackshaw giving a historic look at the species in Northern Ireland. Following this, Dr. Archie Murchie from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will discuss the ways in which grassland production is impacted and the challenges that controlling leatherjackets presents.

A European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project led by AgriSearch and involving four farmers from Co. Fermanagh is currently investigating the extent of the leatherjacket problem and aims to test integrated pest management strategies to mitigate the problem. Its results to date will be presented.

The findings of a recent online survey regarding the extent of the leatherjacket problem and current strategies for their control will also be discussed.

Then, John Egerton, a participating farmer in the EIP project will provide the challenges faced on-farm as a result of leatherjackets with Aisling Moffat, Teagasc PhD, providing a wider view on the prevalence of the species on farms across the island of Ireland.

There will also be an opportunity for questions and discussion.

Registration can be done through the AgriSearch website.