New slug pellet a tasty option

A new slug pellet range from De Sangosse will increase control over existing Metarex (metaldehyde) products and reduce the amount of active ingredient required, the company claims.

In their trials, the TDS (Technology De Sangosse) pellets killed up to 10% more slugs than Metarex pellets, despite containing less active ingredient (4% metaldehyde versus 5%) and application rates 1kg/ha lower, says the firm’s Eric Gussin.

“All our trials have found that the TDS pellet is more attractive and palatable than existing Metarex pellets, which explains why we can reduce the rate of active ingredient and still get good control. This means it will have less impact on the environment.”

TDS slug pellets
  • Two products (for commercial reasons) – TDS Major & TDS Metarex Amba
  •  Based on new manufacturing process
  •  Less active ingredient required
  • Both contain 4% metaldehyde and are applied at 7kg/ha (compared with 8kg/ha for Metarex)
  • 10% better slug control over existing Metarex pellets in trials
  • Similar price/ha to Metarex
  •  Old Metarex products to be phased out

The product, manufactured in France, will be available for use this autumn and will be aimed at the quality end of the market, competing with the likes of Bayer CropScience’s methiocarb range andMakhteshim’s wet-processed products, he says. But unlike methiocarb, he says, metaldehyde-based pellets are harmless to carabid beetles – a natural predator of slugs.

“This is one of the big advantages of metaldehyde,” says independent consultant David Glen. “TDS does seem to have better persistence and palatability, so it is a step forward compared with existing products.”

Mr Gussin says the TDS pellets will cost “about the same per hectare” as Metarex, although exact pricing will depend on individual distributors.

However, he urges growers not to consider just cost/kg when deciding what pellets to use. “A lot of mini-products may be cheaper, but they’re not necessarily cost-effective. Quite often they can break up on application or in the field, and you will have to go back in with a second application anyway.”

“Cheap” products account for 50-60% of the UK market, he estimates, which is unique compared with other parts of Europe. “In France, for example, it’s nearer 5-10%. We need to work with growers to explain why cheapest isn’t always best.”

The new TDS metaldehyde pellets offer higher levels of slug control, says De Sangosse’s Eric Gussin.

Higher slug risk this autumn?
  • Wet weather has meant high numbers of slug eggs and juveniles in many areas, which could cause significant problems this autumn, Mr Gussin suggests.
  • “We had a warm, wet March, which was a key time for slugs. And, although we had a dry April, it won’t have knocked numbers back that much. At the moment, it looks like we could have bigger problems than last year.”
  • Prof Glen agrees, but says the weather between now and the autumn will be the deciding factor. “We’ve seen a lot of slug activity recently, but the threat this autumn will very much depend on the weather during late summer and early autumn in particular.”
  • Following reports of slugs grazing flag leaves (Farmers Weekly, 1 June, p56), growers are advised to make a note of problem patches, and prioritise them for treatment later in the year. “It may sound simple, but many people still aren’t doing this,” notes Mr Gussin.