New weapon in the fight against slugs

South Waikato News - - Farming - GER­ALD PIDDOCK

A tiny one mil­lime­tre worm may soon be the lat­est tool for farm­ers in the war against slugs.

The ne­ma­tode, named Phas­marhab­di­tis hermaphrodita, in­fects and kills slugs and has been avail­able in Europe as a bi­o­log­i­cal con­trol for the past 20 years.

Work by the Foun­da­tion for Arable Re­search (FAR) con­firmed that the ne­ma­tode had been long present in New Zealand.

This al­lowed FAR to con­vince the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­ity to change its sta­tus un­der the Haz­ardous Sub­stances and New Or­gan­isms Act, so it could now be used in New Zealand, Agre­search se­nior sci­en­tist Mike Wil­son said.

FAR could soon un­der­take field tri­als to com­pare bi­o­log­i­cal slug con­trol with chem­i­cal baits, Wil­son said at FAR’S an­nual field day at its north­ern crop re­search site at Tama­here.

The re­lax­ing of its en­vi­ron­men­tal sta­tus also opened the door for the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion in New Zealand of Ne­maslug, a Euro­pean prod­uct which con­tained mil­lions of the ne­ma­todes which were sprayed out onto crops.

Wil­son said dis­cus­sions were be­ing held with BASF, the sole providers of Ne­maslug, about mak­ing the prod­uct avail­able in New Zealand. Us­ing the bi­o­log­i­cal con­trol was a more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly al­ter­na­tive com­pared with chem­i­cal slug bait and could po­ten­tially pro­vide a greater level of con­trol if used prop­erly, he said.

In the mean­time, FAR and Agre­search had con­tin­ued to run tri­als com­par­ing slug con­trol with yields in maize crops at Tama­here. Wil­son up­dated farm­ers on the lat­est re­sults of those tri­als at the field day.

The ex­per­i­ments looked at the ef­fect slug dam­age had on maize crop yields.

A large, di­rect drilled plot was sown and this crop would be mea­sured at dif­fer­ent times through to har­vest.

The crop was di­vided into eight sub-plots that were ei­ther un­treated or treated with slug bait. The dif­fer­ence in growth be­tween the treated and un­treated was clearly vis­i­ble, Wil­son said.

The trial used the slug bait En­dure, a Ravens­down prod­uct and put three ap­pli­ca­tions on at 12 kilo­grams a hectare.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.