Farmer, United Kingdom
Jake Adopts a Novel Approach to Controlling Slugs
Jake Freestone manages a mixed farm in the UK. He grows wheat, barley, oilseed rape, peas and vegetables and raises 1,000 breeding ewes.
He has converted most of the farm to a minimum-tillage operation, which reduces soil erosion and helps build soil nutrients. Unfortunately, slugs love the cover offered by the extra crop residue left on the surface of the soil.
“We are seeing more and more of these slugs coming through,” he says.
Slugs hollow through crops like winter wheat, hampering seed germination and growth. If Jake and his team aren’t quick to remove the slugs, they can lose crop yields and profitability.
He uses an Integrated Pest Management program to stay on top of the problem.
“There’s a whole multitude of things that we do to get the most economical and the most environmentally-sustainable pest control,” he says.
To limit the amount of damage slugs can cause, Jake drags a heavy roller over his fields after they’ve been planted. The roller compacts the soil so the slugs can’t move around as easily, and as a result, their damage is confined to a small area.
To prevent the build-up of other unwanted insects, Jake is creating beetle banks in his fields. These raised areas of tusky grass house beneficial insects like spiders that control unwanted pests like aphids.
He says effective pest control is essential to ensure consumers get what they want. “The first thing that a customer looks at when they go into the shop is the fruit or vegetable itself, and it’s actually that visual impact that sells a lot of our crops.”
Jake’s farm is a LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) demonstration farm that hosts interest groups and school children to teach them about the environment, food and farming.