Farmers looking for a better way to deal with the annual scourge of slugs are invited to join a webinar that will present progress on finding a wheat that’s resistant to the slimy pest.
Taking place on Wednesday 5 October at 8:30am, the webinar will give an insight into the landrace variety consistently spurned by slugs in lab tests, which is now under scrutiny in a ground-breaking trial with ten BOFIN members. There’ll also be news of an elite wheat line, suspected to have the same properties, which is being included in the trial.
Anyone with an interest in keeping crops slug-free, or just curious about the behaviour of these creatures and whether plant genetics can help, can register to attend.
In doing so, they will join the Slug-resistant wheat Knowledge Cluster that will track progress, help shape how the trial develops and share experiences.
Farmers in the cluster will work with scientists on the project to develop an understanding of farming systems at the same time as developing the next generation of wheat genetics.
At the webinar, Dr Simon Griffiths from John Innes Centre will explain the background to Watkins 788, the landrace wheat believed to be resistant to slugs. He’ll outline the lab tests done to date and what they’ve learned about the wheat in the two years it’s been grown at the JIC field station near Norwich.
Prof Keith Walters of Harper Adams University will bring the latest research on slug behaviour and how the trial has been set up to determine how grazing will be monitored.
Some of the farmers involved in the project will then join BOFIN founder and co-ordinator Tom Allen-Stevens to discuss the trial and its prospects and how they hope the project will shape up.
There’ll then follow a discussion, bringing in the webinar attendees, which will be an opportunity to gain further insights into the wheat genetics and slug behaviour. Uniquely, those who attend the webinar will help shape the project and decide the activities the Knowledge Cluster will undertake.
If there is a trait that can be bred into modern wheats, farmers in the cluster will be the first to try it. This may take many years, during which they will work with scientists to co-design strategies around crop palatability and develop a far more sustainable approach that will combat the pest in conjunction with genetic resilience.