When wet weather hits, slug populations can emerge to cause damage that can be devastating to cereal crop establishment. When used as part of an IPM approach, applying slug pellets can be an effective method for controlling this yield-robbing pest.
However, ensuring application is carried out efficiently and responsibly is vital to getting the most out of your pellets, explains Charlotte Foxall of SCS Spreader & Sprayer Testing Ltd.
“Monitoring is first and foremost when it comes to applying slug pellets as it can help establish real-time populations to base decisions on.
“Use slug traps with layers mash and check these early in the morning when slugs are active. If three or more slugs are present in cereal crops then slug pellets should be applied,” she says.
“Once slug population levels have been established, inspect your machinery to ensure the spreader is fastened correctly, the electrics are functioning, and the discs, vanes and agitation mechanism are in good condition and turning correctly.”
Pellet quality also has a big impact on spreading accuracy, explains Charlotte.
“There are four main characteristics that combine to make a good quality slug pellet. This includes size, which is best between 2 and 3 mm, a uniform shape, a strong pellet that has a crush strength over 3kg, and a density over 0.7kg/L.”
Once a robust pellet is selected, Charlotte advises carrying out a full width tray test, to establish an accurate spread of the pellets, aiming for a balanced number of pellets per tray.
“This is vital to ensure maximum impact at minimum cost, and reduced wastage which is all better for the environment,” she says.
“When switching between products, it’s also important to recalibrate between, or after, each use.”
With ongoing pressure on metaldehyde usage and in light of the 10m buffer zone guidelines from the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG), the use of both ferric phosphate and metaldehyde pellets on some farms is becoming more common, with some switching entirely to ferric phosphate due to its efficacy and environmental benefits, explains Chris Charnock, Certis’ Arable Product Manager.
“As ferric phosphate isn’t soluble in water it has an extremely good environmental profile, and fits particularly well in high-risk situations, such as vulnerable water catchment areas.”
He adds that choosing a high quality, uniform, wet process pellet, such as Sluxx HP, is a good choice this season as it spreads well, is rainfast and has anti-moulding properties.
“If all the tips above are followed then an accurate, cost effective and environmentally aligned slug pellet application can be achieved,” he concludes.