Science needs your slugs


01 November 2023
Potato growers urged to help harvest slimers.

RESEARCHERS at the UK Government-funded AgriTech centre, Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), alongside scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC), desperately need slugs to support research and potato growers are being urged to put any found on their land to good use.

Dr Jenna Ross OBE from CHAP said: “Slugs are arable farming’s biggest pest issue which, without adequate control, is estimated to cost the UK industry about £43.5M per year. Developing solutions to tackle these pests sustainably could be a game-changer for the entire industry and wider supply chain.

“Farmers urgently need alternative control measures that are effective, sustainable, environmentally and societally acceptable, and economically viable. Researchers at CHAP and JIC are conducting vital research that will help us achieve this, but in order to succeed we need as many slugs as possible.”

Those looking to put slugs found on their land to good use are encouraged by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN) to sign up as Slug Scouts.

These are volunteers who are given guidance on how to collect slugs and send them into the labs.

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Anyone can enrol as a Slug Scout. A previous call for help saw gardeners and school children join around 30 farmers in providing valuable specimens for research. The slimy pests can be trapped and collected from anywhere dark and moist enough to harbour them, although the research is specifically focused on the grey field slug.

Those who sign up receive a free Slug Scout pack, which will include: 
•    Full instructions on how to set up a Slimery - where you attract and trap your slugs
•    A slug identification guide
•    Plastic containers into which you place your harvested slugs
•    Postage-paid envelopes to send them into John Innes Centre or Crop Health and Protection (Rothamsted Research office)
•    Tweezers to pick up the slimy pests
•    A BOFIN pin badge, pen and leaflet
“We received a terrific response when we put out a call earlier this year with over 1,000 slugs received,” reveals BOFIN founder Tom Allen-Stevens.

“If you’re new to the world of slug research and would like to help, we’d love you to get in touch.”

Those interested in becoming a Slug Scout should contact Skye or Tom with their name and address or sign up at Slimers.

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