In-paddock imaging technology is being employed in research which aims to help growers better predict when slugs will be active on their properties, so they can better time baiting applications.
The research is being conducted as part of a project investigating slug and snail monitoring and control methods, initiated by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSN) initiative.
Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) entomologist Svetlana Micic is leading the research.
Speaking at a recent GRDC Albany port zone RCSN meeting at Frankland, Ms Micic outlined areas being covered under the RCSN study including predicting slug emergence; control options for small conical snails; and new technologies for slug and snail control.
Due to the sporadic nature of slug attacks, Ms Micic said the RCSN study had set up a field trial at Frankland with imaging technology to take photos every few minutes, along with a weather station, to correlate environmental cues with slug movement.
This part of the project is being conducted in conjunction with a separate GRDC funded project led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).
“The information gained in the study will feed into a model which will improve predictability of slug movements so that growers can make better baiting decisions,” Ms Micic said.
“Historical reports of slug damage from PestFax will also be collated in relation to historical weather patterns to determine if there are correlations between reports of slug damage and local weather conditions.”
Ms Micic said growers were reporting that repeated bait applications were needed to control slugs and that each year they were spending more money on baits to control them.
“In 2015, slugs have been found in some cereal and canola crops, resulting in retarded plant growth and reduced yield potential,” she said.
“Damage from slugs in cereal crops appears to be more prevalent when dry conditions early in the growing season impair plant growth, making it harder for plants to outgrow feeding damage.”
Ms Micic said the GRDC RCSN project would also use imaging technology to map the distribution of snails in paddocks, so that baits could be better targeted.
“Small conical snails are a growing issue for growers in the Albany and Esperance port zones,” she said.
Ms Micic said the use of microwave radiation to control slugs was longer-term, ‘blue skies’ research being conducted under the GRDC RCSN project, and was showing early promise.
“Initial trials into the use of microwave radiation show that this technology has good potential for slug control but limited potential for small conical snail control,” she said.
“The time taken for slug mortality is about four seconds and microwaves can penetrate 10cm into the soil,” Ms Micic said.
“This time period does not cause plant mortality or kill hard bodied invertebrates, fungi or nematodes.
Information about monitoring and managing slugs and snails is available at GRDC Hot Topics.
Caption: Research funded by the GRDC and led in WA by DAFWA entomologist Svetlana Micic aims to help growers cost-effectively monitor and control slugs and snails.
Svetlana Micic, DAFWA
08 9892 8591, 0427 772 051
Natalie Lee, Senior Consultant, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827
GRDC Project Code