By John Tooker, Entomology Specialist
One of the reasons that slugs are such a challenge in no-till field crops is the lack of commercially available pest management tools.
Among the few viable options for slug control are metaldehyde-based baits, the best well known of which are the Deadline products (e.g., Deadline Bullets and Deadline Mini-Pellets), but others are available.
The active ingredient metaldehyde is produced by a European company called Lonza and needs periodic re-registration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The latest re-registration is underway, and we recently learned that Lonza has decided to let corn and soybeans drop from the label. The IR-4 Project (which facilitates registration of pest management tools) has submitted a petition to EPA to establish tolerances on these and other commodities (which would allow their continued registration on the metaldehyde label).
But in the near future it could be that growers would not be allowed to use metaldehyde-based products to protect their corn and soybean fields for perhaps a year or two until the EPA publishes a final rule on the proposed tolerances.
Since learning of this problem, various organizations including IR4, AMVAC (the producer of Deadline products), and University-based and NRCS personnel have mobilized to try to maintain uninterrupted use of metaldehyde in corn and soybeans.
Our efforts are directed toward the EPA, where the final decision lies. It is promising that such a range of voices have emerged in support of maintaining the current uses of metaldehyde, but it would be valuable for EPA to hear from growers and grower groups.