Slow-release slug killer may solve pollution problem

A slow-release metaldehyde slug pellet could be the solution to the active finding its way into groundwater.

Metaldehyde is the main active used to manage slugs, but its future use is under threat after being found in rivers in the autumn, which can result in disruption of water abstraction to treatment works and reservoirs.

See also: Zero-metaldehyde zones give mixed results

Current initiatives by farmers and water companies in various river catchments include the use of ferric phosphate, effectively creating no-metaldehyde zones.

However, another option could be a controlled-release pellet that delivers much smaller amounts of the active. That is the thinking behind a project set up by materials technology specialist Lucideon and the University of Newcastle.

The company’s inorganic controlled-release technology is being researched by the biology team at the University of Newcastle – headed by Gordon Port.

Lucideon is looking to establish a method of delivering the pesticide using the highly targeted technology, while the university is investigating the feeding response of slugs to the materials and their efficacy, said Steve Newman, product manager at Lucideon. 

“The early findings of the research show by using our iCRT platform, the delivery can be carefully controlled and the quantities of metaldehyde reduced considerably,” he said.

Pilot trials with the prototype product are planned for this season.

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