How beetles can help with slug control


02 October 2023
Growers invited to explore how beetle behaviour can help with crop protection.

UK GROWERS are being invited to join a free webinar taking place on Thursday examining the role of beetles in slug control strategies. 

Slug damage costs UK farming more than £40m per year, and the inorganic compound, ferric phosphate, is used to protect crops from the pest.

The focus on finding innovative solutions to the problem has sharpened in recent years, most notably with the recent launch of a £2.6m Defra-funded research project, which is getting underway this autumn.

'Strategies Leading to Improved Management and Enhanced Resilience Against Slugs' (SLIMERS) will run for three years and involve more than 100 UK farms and six partners. It is being delivered through Innovate UK and led by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN).

One potential bio-control option could be to encourage larger populations of the slug’s natural enemies in fields – such as carabid beetles – to reduce/suppress populations.

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The webinar on Thursday will explore how beetle behaviour interacts with slugs and how a better understanding of this can help control.

Dr Kelly Jowett from Rothamsted Research, Professor Keith Walters from Harper Adams University and Wiltshire farmer Becci Berry will join BOFIN founder Tom Allen-Stevens for the event, which starts at 8.30am.

“SLIMERS is looking at a whole range of potential actions farmers can take to reduce slug damage. This includes targeted treatment procedures emerging from the slug patch location forecasting work conducted at Harper Adams University, spot treatments using the outcome of previous work undertaken by CHAP and Small Robot Company’s SlugBot project, and a combination of the two," Tom said.

“Very little applied research has looked at beetle behaviour and its relationship with slugs, so we’re looking forward to hearing what some of the leaders in this field already know, and which areas need further exploration.”

The consortium of UK companies, research institutes and farmer networks working on SLIMERS includes Crop Health and Protection, Harper Adams University, John Innes Centre, Agrivation and Small Robot Company.

To register, click here.

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