The damage caused by slugs to potato, wheat and rapeseed crops could cost farmers nearly £100 million every year. But treading the line between widespread crop damage and strict regulations on the use of pesticides isn’t easy. PhD researcher Emily Forbes is responding by tracking the movement of slugs so farmers can better target their pesticides.
Along with lecturers and professors at Harper Adams, Emily is tracking the movement of slugs using RFID technology. By inserting tiny wireless trackers into slugs, she’s able to log their movements and confirm the theory that they congregate in the wettest areas of fields. Emily’s research is a step up from traditional tracking methods, which involve counting slugs by sight. Her method means that slugs that go underground can be tracked, too. By finding out where slugs go, farmers can apply pesticides in targeted areas, rather than across a whole field. The result is saving both money and the environment.
The project has been funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), The Potato Council and Cereals and Oilseeds.Plans are now underway to track even larger numbers of slugs.