Scientists are working on an enhanced method of slug control which could throw a lifeline to the farming industry and reduce the global economic impact caused by the pest.
International materials technology specialist Lucideon has joined forces with the University of Newcastle to develop a method of controlling the release of metaldehyde products.
According to the Environment Agency, metaldehyde – used to kill slugs – is the pesticide that most often causes risks to drinking water sources, especially in the autumn.It advises farmers to operate ‘best practice’ to avoid pollution, stating that if metaldehyde enters watercourses it can threaten drinking water quality, which can result in disruption of water abstraction to treatment works and reservoirs.
It advises farmers to operate ‘best practice’ to avoid pollution, stating that if metaldehyde enters watercourses it can threaten drinking water quality, which can result in disruption of water abstraction to treatment works and reservoirs.
In a bid to tackle the issue, the application of Lucideon’s inorganic controlled release technology (iCRT) is being researched by the biology team at the University of Newcastle – headed by Dr Gordon Port.
Lucideon is looking to establish a method of delivering the pesticide using the highly targeted and controlled iCRT technology, while the university is investigating the feeding response of slugs to the materials and their efficacy.
The research team is also looking at a second, non-metaldehyde control option.
Both methods are scheduled to move into pilot trials in 2016. Steve Newman, product manager at Lucideon, said: “In some cases metaldehyde can seep into watercourses.
“The early findings of the research show that by using our iCRT platform the delivery can be carefully controlled and the quantities of metaldehyde reduced considerably, meaning this situation could be resolved.
“The control of slugs is of major significance globally. Without it, billions of pounds worth of damage to crops will occur, creating a serious impact on food production.”
Mr Newman added: “Lucideon’s iCRT is helping to tackle some major societal issues, including within the critical area of agriculture. “By developing better fertilisers and also controlling slugs effectively we can help deliver major improvements to crop production and food security.”