Farmers could soon have a new precision slug control solution, following the launch of a £2.6M Defra-funded project.

Strategies Leading to Improved Management and Enhanced Resilience Against Slugs (SLIMERS) is a three-year research project involving more than 100 UK farms and six industry partners.

Led by the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN), the consortium intends to provide two services for sustainable slug control.

BOFIN founder and project lead, Tom Allen-Stevens, says following the metaldehyde ban, protecting the future of ferric phosphate pellets is even more important.

“Slugs are arable farming’s biggest pest issue which is estimated to cost the UK industry about £43.5M per year. Developing solutions to tackle these pests sustainably could be a game-changer for the entire industry and wider supply chain,” he says.

Project aims

The project’s aims are to reduce reliance on slug pellet usage through precision application of treatments to slug hotspots, and, advance alternative biological control.

Dr Jenna Ross from UK Agri-Tech Innovation Centre, Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), is the project’s technical lead. “Farmers urgently require alternative control measures that are effective, sustainable, environmentally and societally acceptable, and economically viable.

“This industry-focused research project utilises the consortium’s unique expertise and capabilities to develop cost-effective digital autonomous slug monitoring, forecasting and precision treatment tools, thus delivering on-farm game-changing solutions to benefit farmers,” says Jenna.

Slug Sleuths

The first stage of the project will recruit 30 ‘Slug Sleuths’ – a group of farmers determined to overcome the pest. These farmers will be paid to host trials on their own farms and test the developing technology.

Following this, robots move in, bringing infield cutting-edge slug identification and spot-treatment technology, building on the recently completed SlugBot project. The Slug Sleuths will work alongside the autonomous bots to improve the AI models and advance pellet-free biological solutions.

While this technology will be tested infield by farmers, it’ll be supported and refined in laboratories.

Be involved

The project is also launching the Slug Circle – a platform and knowledge exchange hub designed to facilitate discussion, idea sharing and tips for best practice.

For more information about the Slug Circle with a view to signing up, a webinar is taking place on 15 August at 8:30am. To register, click here.

More information about the project, including links to project partners and research initiatives that underpin the project can be found at

The project is funded by Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme (FIP), delivered by Innovate UK.