science needs your slugs

Researchers at the UK Government-funded AgriTech centre, Crop Health and Protection, alongside scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC), desperately need slugs to support groundbreaking research to improve control, reduce pesticide usage and making sure more of the crops grown end up on consumers’ plates. Science needs your slugs.

Dr Jenna Ross OBE from Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) said: “I travelled the world in 2018 as a Nuffield Farming scholar and noticed a gap in the market for improved slug control.

“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. Science needs your slugs.

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.”

BOFIN provides members with all the support and resources needed to contribute to the projects. If you need help identifying which slugs need to be collected or want to know more about how to collect the slugs, please watch this video: https://youtu.be/ph9zI_p6gNY.

More information on the first-year results can be seen in this video: https://youtu.be/Oxki7QLNcVA

Those interested in becoming a Slug Scout should contact Skye (skye@bofin.org.uk) or Tom (tom@bofin.org.uk) with their name and address or sign up at www.slimers.co.uk.

 

Notes to editors

Strategies Leading to Improved Management and Enhanced Resilience Against Slugs (SLIMERS) is a three-year £2.6M research programme involving more than 100 UK farms and six partners.

The project aims are to develop two commercial services from current proof-of-concept technologies: patch prediction and precision mapping, and autonomous slug treatment using nematodes.

The project is steered by science, guided by robots and proven by real farm enterprises, with the potential to make a significant difference to slug control strategies, with slug damage currently estimated to cost £43.5M a year.

BOFIN (British On-Farm Innovation Network) leads the consortium – alongside technical lead, CHAP – that includes Harper Adams University, John Innes Centre, Agrivation and Small Robot Company.

SLIMERS is funded by the Small R&D Partnership Projects, part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme. Defra are working in partnership with Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, who are delivering the programme. Project number: 10053286

Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency. Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. It connects businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. More information about Innovate UK can be found at: ukri.org

Farmers are encouraged to join the Slug Circle community, a platform and knowledge exchange hub. For more, visit slimers.co.uk

A selection of high-resolution pictures, including photos of key project representatives, general shots of slugs and logos can be found here.

All press enquiries for SLIMERS should be directed to BOFIN Farmers info@bofin.org.uk, or contact Skye Melita (skye@bofin.org.uk, 07483 238577)

For all on-farm trials related press releases click here.

More Press Releases