Bait Density Matters, Says Independent Australian Study

18 May 2017

Snail baiting trials carried out by a grower group in Western Australia have shown that pellet density has a direct effect on slug and snail mortality.

Irrespective of active ingredient – the trials featured pellets containing metaldehyde as well as iron phosphate – the more bait points there were, the more snails were killed by the baits.

The research was carried out by Stirling to Coast Farmers (SCF). Snails are becoming an increasing phytosanitary risk in Australian grain shipments such as barley, but also canola. Small pointed conical snails found in exported grain led to China imposing a ban on imports from certain regions in Australia last year, and data from CBH – one of Australia’s main grain handlers – found that the number of snails detected has doubled in number every year.

Dr Kathi McDonald, who conducted the research, said that almost half the 120 growers involved in her survey said small pointed conical snails were present on their farms.

“Almost 60 per cent of growers with snails on their properties reported the pests were at levels requiring baiting. However, there’s a high level of uncertainty amongst growers as to the efficacy of baiting on control of these snails.”

Dr McDonald conducted ‘caged bait trials’ in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA). During 2017, SCF will conduct field trials to further test the efficacy of various baiting options in ‘real life’ situations.

In addition to the field trials, another DAFWA researcher is leading a Grains Research and Development Corporation project to increase knowledge of agriculturally significant slug and snail species. Svetlana Micic will use cameras to monitor slug and snail movements, aiming to produce a model that growers can use to target bait applications when the molluscs are most active.