Farmers are encouraged to join a free webinar taking place on Thursday 5 October examining the role of beetles in slug control strategies.
Slug damage costs UK farming more than £40m per year, and growers have just one inorganic compound – ferric phosphate – 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.
The webinar on Thursday 5 October 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.” Mr Allen-Stevens 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.”
Farmers can register for the webinar online here.
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.
More information about the project, including links to project partners and research initiatives that underpin the project can be found at 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 (Crop Health and Protection) – 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 .
- All press enquiries for SLIMERS should be directed to BOFIN Farmers email@example.com, or contact Skye Melita (firstname.lastname@example.org, 07483 238577)