A Wisconsin no-tiller recently posted in the No-Till Farmer Discussion Group and asked what other no-tillers do to control slugs. Check out the responses below and if you'd like to respond with your own tips for controlling slugs in no-till systems, click here to join the discussion. 

I use a silica product from NTS called Dia Life. It works great and it’s a non toxic approach. I had great success with it in soys last year. 28% will work, but every time it rains you have to reapply which gets expensive. Slugs can be a nightmare.

-James McNichol, Ont., CAN. 

We have had a lot of slugs over the past 3-4 years in no-till fields, even those with green covers and tillage/daikon radish. We make sure the slot is closed well and we scout for slugs around emergence, especially in shaded areas and lower areas which stay wetter, as those areas seem to have the worst pressure.

Once we find the first measurable feeding on corn or beans, we either apply slug pellets to the lower/shaded areas, or the whole field (depending on slug pressure). Deadline slug pellets is what we use, at +\- 10 pounds per acre with an electric spinner spreader on a 4 wheeler. It spreads 40 inches.

We have experimented with treated vs. non treated beans for 2 years and have seen no difference so far in slug damage.

-Phil Needham, Calhoun, Ky.

I get good results spreading crystalline (not granules) of sulphate of ammonia (ammonium sulphate). About 100 kg/ha (100 pounds per acre). Spreading just before sunset, the slugs will die when they make contact with a particle. Try it out by making a circle of ammonium sulphate and placing some slugs in the middle. Do it in the shade. Watch what happens. Once they touch it, they become dehydrated bits of leather in a few hours. You are fertilizing and there is no need to use a pesticide.

-Robert Eccles, Brisbane, AUS.

For me it's all about prevention. If planting into moist soil, I will apply up to 2 additional seed treatments. Planting into bone dry soil can be done without additional seed treatment, but anymore I don't risk it. Very little makes one sicker than seeing a beautiful stalk of corn fall over, eaten off at ground level and knowing full well it is all my fault. I have never had an issue with them since.....at least up until now!

-Tim Burkholder, La Maquina, Guatemala

We have seen slugs being especially challenging this year in several areas of the country. One option for control is Ferroxx Slug & Snail Bait. Demand has increased significantly as a result of increased pressure. A waterproof formula that contains iron chelate as the active ingredient; it defies rain, mold and moisture. Iron is toxic only to slugs which causes them to stop feeding and provides immediate protection to the plants. This mode of action is unique and is irreversible.

-Eric Maurer, Annapolis, MD

Slugs — that is all anyone is talking about in southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland. We have had many people in the area use the Ferroxx this year and they have been satisfied. Don’t forget that Deadline Bullets is metaldehyde — not something I want to add to my soil if I have other options.

-Ben Hushon, White Hall, MD

It is possible I live in a warmer climate that has a low probability of slugs but I have only had slug damage the first year I convert a conventional tilled field over to my strip/no-till program. I have seen this happen several times. I usually have one year of low population stands that looks like crap for a while but eventually it grows out of it. I chalk it up to the natural balance of things playing out; natural slug predator population increasing.

-Ryan Damery, Mount Zion, Ill.

We have been following a no-till slug management system for years. The system approach has served us well. Here is a list of the practices we recommend.

1) Avoid broadcast insecticide applications (except rescue treatments) which kill slug predators.

2) Limit neonic seed treatment use. Slugs eat plants with systemic neonics in their tissue. Slug predators eat a slug and are killed by the neonic. Neonics do not affect the slug.

3) Grow cover crops and let them get some size in the spring. This is a slug predator nursery. Remember — no insecticide in the broadcast spray.

4) Use row cleaners that clear most crop residue from the row area. Eliminate day cover for slugs near the row.

5) Dribble a band of dry granular ammonium sulfate and/or muriate of potash over the row with the planter. This establishes a band of salt that slugs will not enter and if they do, they will back off or die. Limit the band to 70 pounds per acre total N + K2O + S depending on band width. Make this part of the fertility program.

6) Use a row closing system that interlocks the sidewalls of the seed furrow. The last thing we want is an open seed furrow which can quickly become a super highway for slugs and other crop pests.

7) Use naturals, PGRs, biologicals, microbes and low rate fertilizer in the seed furrow to promote strong emergence and rapid early crop growth.

We would be very careful in using Dia-Life or crystalline products due to their effect on slug predators.

-Grant Troop, Oxford, Pa.

One word: Ducks. Here is some more info: https://vergenoegd.co.za/sustainability/
-Bee Baxter, New Zealand

As a former regional NRCS soil health specialist, I wrote 5 fact sheets on slugs and another 5 on voles which tend to like the same environment as slugs. There are over 30 recommendations on how to fight slugs. Any single practice is no more than 60% effective, so it requires a whole suite of best management practices to fight slugs and voles. The single biggest deterrent to slugs is a cold winter when the soil freezes deep, killing the slugs. My fact sheets include The Slug Biology and Life Cycle, Natural Predators and the last one covers all the Slug Best Management Practices. Go to my website: Hoormansoilhealth.com and click on New/Resources and scroll down to Slug Fact sheets. Good luck.

-Jim Hoorman, Jenera, Ohio

Check out this episode of the Cover Crop Strategies Podcast from our sister publication, Cover Crop Strategies, for even more innovative tips on managing slug pressure in your no-till fields. And click here to join in on the discussion about slugs and other topics related to no-till in the No-Till Farmer Discussion Group.

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