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New research into ferric phosphate mode of action

A recent Harper Adams University study will give growers a glimpse into the subterranean world to address common misconceptions of slug behaviour once ferric phosphate has been ingested.


A recent Harper Adams University study will give growers a glimpse into the subterranean world to address common misconceptions of slug behaviour once ferric phosphate has been ingested.

“With metaldehyde, growers are used to seeing dead slugs and slime trails on the surface. However, slugs behave differently after eating ferric phosphate,” explains Geoffrey Bastard, Regional Technical Specialist at Certis.

“Once slugs ingest ferric phosphate it acts as a stomach poison, which causes them to retreat below ground to die,” he says.

The study showed that 50 to 60% of slugs that ingested Sluxx HP pellets (ferric phosphate) retreated below the soil surface within the first 24 hours. After two to three days, virtually every slug had died underground.

“Slug pellets are an important part of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to slug control,” says Geoffrey. “And, with uncertainty around the future of metaldehyde and in light of the 10m buffer zone guidelines from the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG), some growers are now switching to ferric phosphate for the flexibility it offers.

“Although rainfall may not be high on the list of concerns now, come autumn time, it will no doubt be another issue to contend with,” he says.

“Ferric phosphate has a good environmental profile as it doesn’t have any buffer zone restrictions. Growers can use the active in high-risk areas next to watercourses, and right up to hedgerows, where slug populations can thrive.”

The results of the research can be found on the Certis website www.certiseurope.co.uk and for more information contact us at infocertisuk@certiseurope.com.