Mackane Vogel here, with this week’s cover crop connection. I chatted with associate professor at Oregon State University, Rory McDonnell, about his innovative research on combating slugs and snails. Cover croppers and no-tillers often have an especially hard time managing slug and snail pressure, and McDonnell just might have found the bread and butter for knocking out these pests.

“One of the important things in my program is we're looking at these novel ways for helping growers to control slugs. And one of the interesting things we've discovered over the past couple of years is that there are some food sources that slugs are very attracted to, and we have found that fermenting bread dough, so a simple bread dough mix is extremely attractive and that could be used in mass trappings scenarios. It could also be used in attract and kill approaches. So you put some of this fermenting dough out in the field and instead of you going to find the slugs, the slugs come to you because you've put the dough out. So then you target those areas within your crop where the bread dough is. We're working with a scientist in Canada at the minute and we're trying to develop a synthetic equivalent of the bread dough so that we can then incorporate that into existing bases to make them more attractive…

“Just to give you an idea of how effective it can be, and we worked on a snail species in Montana, and it's called the eastern heat snail. We tested our bread dough in Montana, and after we deployed, I believe it was 60 traps with the bread dough, 60 traps with just water, which was our untreated control, and we collected snails over 48 hours. And after 48 hours with the bread, we'd collected 18,000 snails in 60 traps versus four or 500 with the water control traps. So I think that really speaks to how attractive this material is for these organisms.”

Stay tuned for an upcoming Cover Crop Strategies Podcast as well as an article with more info on McDonnell’s slug and snail research in the coming weeks. That’s all for this week’s cover crop connection. Until next time, back to you, Noah.