As we start to move more rapidly into the autumn cropping program, dealing with snails and slugs returns to front of mind for many growers in the southern reaches of the country. The past few years has seen these pests receive considerable attention with a range of both industry and private sector funding research activities already completed and more continuing this season. It’s safe to say although there is still much to learn, recent years have seen the industry come a long way in our understanding and working knowledge of snail and slug activity and effective control measures. One area that did not need any great research to understand is just how devastating snails and slugs can be on emerging crops. In particular sensitive crops such as Canola which can be wiped out overnight if the problem is left unchecked.
Given the snail problem is not altogether new, most growers will now be quite familiar with and most likely use some parts of an integrated management program. The idea of using multiple tools at different times of the year is a key component to combating the increased numbers of pests. Unfortunately, as in most management strategies, the adoption of a fully integrated management program is not as simple as it may initially seem and can quickly become a trade-off of priorities. I.e. retain stubble = reduced erosion, increased soil water retention, burn stubble and indiscriminately smoke up a range of detrimental slugs but also = loss of nutrients, kill a large number of beneficial microorganisms, increase risk of erosion etc.
As with most things farming, answers are not clean cut and generally can be debated until the proverbial cows do come home with no real right or wrong solution. In most cases, the key to a sound management system is spending the time on understanding as many of the variables as one can. When it comes to baiting, there are a number of things that can be managed that do make a difference and result in a much better return on both your time and hip pocket.
Encounter – If you have had anything to do with the baiting of molluscs in the last few years you will be well versed on this term. Encounter relates to having sufficient bait points on the ground whilst snails and slugs are active and feeing, to increase the likelihood they are chanced upon. Encounter also relates to physically having the bait present when the snails and slugs are active and feeding.
Toxicity – Not as commonly discussed as encounter but becoming more prevalent in discussion particularly as a greater number of participants enter the baiting market. When thinking about toxicity with what is claimed by the basement baits providers, care needs to be taken that adequate steps exist to ensure the active material can stand up in the paddock and offers a lethal dose to pest of all shapes and sizes. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for and cheap rarely equates to sufficiently effective.
Duration – Being maybe the newest of the terms relating to successful baiting, duration is a little more complex in explanation. Duration encapsulates the idea of the length of time a bait physically offers the first two elements. This is where things get a little tricky and can be greatly affected depending on which bait you chose to use. Some things to consider are:
• Will that bait stand up to the damp Autumn climate
• How long will the bait remain effective in delivering a lethal dose
• Can the bait be too quickly consumed etc.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist mentality to understand the principle that the longer a bait remains effective in the paddock, the likelihood a snail or slug will cross its path and ultimately meet it’s doom increases.
These are just three of the obvious elements that make for effective baiting. A few further simple points to consider when purchasing a chemical bait would
• How well a bait spreads i.e. has adequate care been taken to ensure a bait flows evenly and are uniform in nature so the application in the field is consistent.
• Will the bait resist mechanical shattering or crumble to dust as it passes through the spreading system.
• How many kilograms of bait is needed to be transported or spread to ensure sufficient bait points per hectare, i.e. research suggests 400,000 baits per ha and up to 800,000 baits per ha in high-pressure situations.
• The physical handling and spreading of large volumes of baits takes time and has a very real and tangible cost to any farming operation. The savvy operator can achieve a great deal of savings if consideration is given to a few or all of the above points.
So, what does all this bait talk mean at Imtrade. In simple terms, at Imtrade we have over a number of years been committed to offering growers the most cost-effective bait in the market at an affordable price. Imtrade Metakill, is a highly durable weather resistant pellet that sets the benchmark for all others in the market. At an average of 100,000 bait points per kilogram, the Metakill Bait ensures excellent encounter prospects at both the high and low end of the rate scale. The 50 milligram high strength rate of Metaldehyde and the newly revised pricing structure delivers the highest quality bait at a value position that sets it apart.
Metakill stands as arguably the best choice in bait with the bonus of knowing when purchasing the product, you are supporting an Australian company that is committed to the future of Australian Agriculture.
For more information contact Imtrade Australia.