After an autumn in which arable farmers struggled (and frequently failed) to cope with the sheer number of slugs, many growers are looking to find other ways of dealing with the maddening molluscs. That’s the opinion of Tom Neat at Techneat Engineering, who says that many growers are now preparing to use the firm’s Autocast system to strengthen their hand.

Normally the Autocast unit spreads oilseed rape straight on to the stubble to give a quick and effective way of establishing the crop. But growers and agronomists are said to be looking at the potential to use the AutoCast to spread slug pellets during combining this summer.

The AutoCast is mounted on the header and can distribute a low rate of pellets across the full width of the combine. The pellets go under the carpet of chopped straw, where conditions tend to remain moist and slug activity is its peak before the new crop is sown.

Mr Neat reports that that company has already sold several new AutoCast machines specifically for slug pellet application this year. Moreover, many other growers with existing machines are said to be setting them up for slug pellet use too.

“The AutoCast has always been a reliable way to distribute oilseed rape in one pass while combining, but the technique can work equally well for slug pellets at rates as low as 2.5 kg/ha,” advises Mr Neat. “The metering mechanism, fan air-flow and distribution plates on the header are all capable of spreading the pellets.”

He says dust-free, high-quality mini-pellets will give the most even distribution and the best staying power on the soil surface under the straw mat.

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