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Confidence in latest ferric phosphate slug solution

With extreme slug pressure expected to affect all arable crops this autumn and mainstay treatment metaldehyde presenting a water-related risk, a programmed approach will be vital this season, believes Dr David Ellerton of Hutchinsons.

With extreme slug pressure expected to affect all arable crops this autumn and mainstay treatment metaldehyde presenting a water-related risk, a programmed approach will be vital this season, believes Dr David Ellerton of Hutchinsons.

“2012 is materialising as a totally different season to recent years,” he warns, noting that all crops this autumn will be at risk.

“While a few weeks of sunshine might act to somewhat improve the situation, autumn drilled crops will still remain vulnerable to attack.

“The number of slugs in crops is enormous and feeding has been significant.  With crops soon to be going in it’s important to start gearing up  now for the season ahead with appropriate slug control programmes,” he urges.

Assessing the options, Dr Ellerton views the latest 3% ferric phosphate slug pellet – launched last year to distributors – as a timely and valuable control solution given what lies ahead this autumn.

“Derrex is the latest 3% ferric phosphate based pellet to join the market. It belongs to the same range of pellets as Sluxx so offers the same highly targeted slug control attributes, with an excellent environmental profile and no buffer zone restriction. There are no effects on other wildlife or non-target species such as earthworms or carabid beetles, nor are there any concerns in vulnerable water catchments.”

Derrex is a dry process pasta pellet from Certis, formulated using a new, patented ‘High Compression Technology’ process which is proving to perform as well as mainstream metaldehyde products. “It’s an extremely effective, highly specific product for broad acre cereal and oilseed rape crops this autumn which we are finding spreads very well and with minimal dust,” says Dr Ellerton.

“It has already demonstrated to us its ability to control slugs at least as well as the market leading baits, particularly for oilseed rape crops where grazing early results in destruction of the growing point and the effect is terminal.”

It is an option which is particularly favourable where wildlife is present, on shooting estates and near urban areas or in vulnerable water catchment areas.

He notes that Derrex has different characteristics to metaldehyde. Whereas metaldehyde tends to cause excessive slime production and dead slugs to be visible on the soil surface, with ferric phosphate the physiological effects, once ingested, cause slugs to stop feeding almost immediately, protecting the crop from damage. They then tend to retreat underground to die within a couple of days. As a result evidence of dead slugs cannot always be seen, with the proof being in the absence of feeding damage.

Growers have been getting on very well with the product, reports Dr Ellerton. To such a degree that he is recommending growers this autumn to follow an early application of metaldehyde with Derrex.

“With the risk of metaldehyde detection in water above drinking water directive limits, there is no question the future of the active is under threat. Make no mistake, we look set for a wet, high pellet usage season ahead and the risk of peaks of metaldehyde in water occurring is high. So really Derrex has arrived just in time as an additional slug control tool.”