March 25, 2014
Farmers would lose over £100m of crops annually without effective slug control products, warns the UK’s industry levy group the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board.
Potato crops would be the worst hit, with growers losing up to £53m per year if they had no means of control; even with existing methods, the cost to potato farmers is estimated at more than £8m/annum. In combinable crops, meanwhile, more than 22% of the wheat crop, and 59% of the oilseed rape area, is damaged by slugs every season.
The warning came as AHDB announced a £300,000 investment of levy funds in a new programme of slug control research, with additional work funded by external sources - and in the light of recent news from the European Union of the ban on the use of methiocarb.
“These figures highlight the economic importance of slug control to UK growers and can help regulators make informed choices relating to pesticide authorisations,” says Caroline Nicholls, HGCA Research and Knowledge Transfer Manager.
“The AHDB crop divisions have united to fund a programme of research to improve integrated pest management (IPM) of slugs in arable, potato and field vegetable crops,” continues Miss Nicholls, “and have issued two calls for new research.”
The first will benefit from £200,000 of funding for a relatively short-term (three year) project to examine how current chemical and non-chemical control approaches can be deployed to best effect across rotations.
The remaining £100,000 has been set aside to unlock further sources of funding in a bid to provide longer-term solutions.
"To maintain an acceptable level of slug control over the longer term, we need to think outside of the box,” explains Miss Nicholls.
“We hope this funding will be used to tap into the significant funding potentially available through sources such as the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform, the UK Agricultural Technologies Strategy and the UK Research Councils, such as the BBSRC.
“This funding could kick-start pioneering research to advance our knowledge of slug genomics, slug behaviour, new control techniques and novel delivery systems,” concludes Miss Nicholls.