Pembrokeshire farmer Neil Batchelor has been trapping slugs to get an early indication of potential damage to his oilseed rape crop and has received a free case of wine for his efforts.

He is the September winner of the monthly competition for a case of classic English wine in the FWi Get Trapping campaign, in association with Meta-metaldehyde manufacturer Lonza and UK pellet manufacturers De Sangosse and Luxan.

Mr Batchelor, who farms a total of about 160ha (400 acres) around Pennar, texted in the results of traps he laid in his rape crop to give him an early indication of the population of slugs he was facing.

These results, along with those from other growers and agronomists across the country, have helped build a Meta-map showing the risk, by region, of damage to young crops from the number one arable pest this autumn.

All registered users who text in their results get a free penknife and are entered for the monthly competition for a case of wine.

“We could see there was the odd bit of damage in places, but it’s not until you trap that you know for sure you have a problem,” Mr Batchelor says.

Following new LINK guidelines, he laid the traps, inspected them the next day and found an average of five, warranting treatment.

“We applied Meta Quality pellets. We find they spread evenly and last until the job is done.

“It was good to get an early warning – leave it a couple of weeks and you risk losing the crop,” notes Mr Batchelor.

Slug activity has now risen substantially, reports ADAS’ David Green, who has also been monitoring slugs in the area as part of the campaign.

He found an average of 12 in one field of beans broadcast into wheat stubble.

“Many of the winter wheat volunteers had been heavily grazed by slugs,” he notes. “Traps showed evidence of young and juvenile slugs, indicative of recent breeding success.”

This should be a warning sign to growers as conditions turn cold and wet, advises Luxan technical manager Peter Boyne.

“Conditions are ideal for these young slugs to thrive, but crop growth will be slowing down.

“It’s crucial that you apply Meta Quality pellets that have been proven to last well in the wet. All Luxan’s product range, including Trigger, carry the Meta Quality mark.”

Full details on how to join the Get Trapping campaign, get a free penknife and enter the monthly draw for a case of wine can be found in the Slug Watch area on FWi.