Slugs Thrive When Policies Promote Biodiversity

Garden Slug

Garden Slug

In order to increase biodiversity around crop fields, some countries have adopted policies to reward farmers for growing a diversity of plants in field margins. These diverse plants attract other species. Unfortunately, slugs thrive in these diverse field margins and move into fields.

“Most field margins on arable land in Switzerland are narrow and intensively managed. As a consequence, field margins generally harbor few plant and animal species. To enhance biodiversity in arable landscapes, sown species-rich field margins, so-called improved field margins, were introduced in 2008 as a part of the Swiss agri-environment scheme.  

Such field margins are semi-natural, permanent habitats a minimum of 3m wide sown with indigenous forbs, grasses and legumes and adjacent to arable fields.

Slug activity density was increased by the establishment of improved field margins in our study. This means that crops grown near improved field margins suffer a higher risk of slug damage. Where possible, farmers should refrain from growing susceptible crops such as oilseed rape or sugar beet adjacent to an improved field margin. If necessary, a strip treatment with molluscicide pellets may reduce slug damage.”

Authors: Eggenschwiler, L., et al.
Affiliation: Agroscope Reckenholz-Tanikon Research Station ART, Zurich, Switzerland.
Title: Improved field margins highly increase slug activity in Switzerland.
Source: Agron. Sustain. Dev. 2013. 33:349-354.

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