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Research

Utilising the patchy distribution of slugs to optimise targeting of control; improved sustainability through precision application.

Abstract

Developing a novel approach to form the basis of management decisions regarding application of slug control. Initially looking at different trapping methods, drivers of patch stability/formation and reliability of different assessment methods to develop a monitoring system with commercial realism.

Description

Objectives of the project;

1.1 To investigate the extent of discontinuous slug distributions in arable fields and the size range of patches where slug activity levels are high.

1.2 To determine the relationship between environmental factors such as temperature, soil moisture and soil type and patch location/size to improve understanding of drivers of patch formation/stability.

1.3 To monitor stability of patches over time, both within and between seasons.

2.1 To establish the relationship between population densities and patch sizes.

3.1 To develop, a monitoring system that will identify patches using the data gained from field monitoring.

4.1 To engage with stakeholders throughout the project to ensure commercial realism, and to test the outcomes of the research conducted in core experimental farms on independent commercial farms.

4.2 To carry out a cost-benefit analysis of adopting the outcomes of the research into commercial practice and release (with caution) research findings for practical use at key stages during the delivery of the programme and at the end of the project. 

The field slug, Deroceras reticulatum (Müller) is the most damaging slug species to agriculture in the UK, accounting for up to 70% of the damage caused to crops (Schley and Bees, 2002). Garden slugs (Arion spp) are also a large contributor to damage. The damage caused to crops by slugs is dependent on crop type. Oilseed rape (OSR) is most at risk of slug damage at the seedling stage (AHDB, 2013). Wheat and other cereals are most susceptible to damage before germination when the slugs cause seed hollowing, although damage can also occur from grazing on young shoots. Potatoes suffer damage when slugs excavate holes in tubers of maincrop cultivars; whilst this may not reduce the yield, tubers are unsuitable for human consumption resulting in a lower sale price and reduced profit margin (South 1992). It is estimated that without effective chemical control measures the annual economic loss due to slug damage would be £43.5 million each year for OSR and wheat crops (Nicholls, 2014) and a further £55 million for potatoes (Twining et al., 2009).

References

AHDB, 2013. Integrated slug control. AHDB Information sheet 02, Autumn 2013.

Nicholls, C. J. 2014. Implications of not controlling slugs in oilseed rape and wheat in the UK. Research review: No. 79.  

Schley, D. and Bees, M. A. 2002. Delay dynamics of the slug Deroceras reticulatum, an agricultural pest. Ecological Modelling, 162, pp.177-198.

South, A. 1992. Terrestrial slugs: Biology, Ecology and Control. London: Chapman & Hall.

Twining, S., Clarke, J., Cook, S., Ellis, S., Gladders, P., Ritchie, F. and Wynn, S. 2009. Research report: Pesticide availability for potatoes following revision of Directive 91/414/EEC: Impact assessments and identification of research priorities. AHDB.

 

Funding Body

AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds/AHDB Potatoes

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