7 Strategies for Reducing Slug and Vole Problems

No-tillers can battle these two pests with scouting, sound planting practices, strategic cover crop management, the right field equipment and some help from predators.

Pictured Above: COVER CROP SEEDING DATE AFFECTS SLUGS. This image of Ohio grower Bruce Renner’s field shows how the seeding date of cereal rye impacted slug damage. The top half of the field in red and yellow is where corn was harvested Sept. 28 and seeded immediately to rye. In the bottom half of the field, the corn was harvested 3½ weeks later. The earlier planted rye was thicker and taller, resulting in more slug damage. Slugs will eat virtually all crops and it’s not uncommon to see 20% yield losses from them.

While there are many benefits to long-term no-till and cover cropping, unfortunately, it is also a very stable environment for slugs and voles. 

As former NRCS Regional Soil Health Specialist Jim Hoorman explained in a presentation at the 2021 National No-Tillage Conference, slugs like high humidity, low winds, and fields with surface residue and green food. Voles thrive under tall cover crops that protect them from predators and prefer to eat grasses, seeds and high-protein plants.

The good news is that no-tillers don’t need to break out the chisel plow to change course — tillage is only about 60% or less effective in controlling these pests, says Hoorman. Instead, there are preventive measures and practice changes you can make to protect your crops.

1. Start with Scouting

The level of pests you have will determine how aggressive you need to be. 

To scout for slugs, you can put out a shingle, boards or even newspaper under a…

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Laura allen

Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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