Northumberland agronomist Stewart Wallace has been monitoring slugs in his area and has received a free case of wine for his efforts.

He is the first 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 Wallace, along with other growers and agronomists across the country, has been trapping slugs, following new LINK guidelines, to help 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.

“In places we’ve found quite high numbers of slugs,” reports Mr Wallace. “In minimum tillage situations it’s worse due to the high level of surface trash.”

He advises growers to get a good, firm seedbed, monitor slug activity and apply pellets as necessary.

SAC agronomist Andy Evans, who has also been monitoring slugs in the area as part of the campaign, also advises growers to keep a close eye on young crops.

“Recent rainfall means slugs are now making their presence felt. We’ve noticed slug activity in rape crops, and numbers are clearly rising, which doesn’t bode well for winter wheat.”

With conditions now turning colder and wetter, crops are especially vulnerable, points out sales and marketing manager for De Sangosse Jean-François Testut.

He advises growers to use pellets that carry the Meta Quality Mark. Products such as Metarex and Trigger are formulated to withstand the wet, spread well and are highly palatable to slugs.

“All too often growers have underestimated the risk and have had to redrill at great expense.

“You cannot afford to take chances with a cheap pellet that will break down to mush in wet conditions.”

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.