New smart technology is available to assist broadacre grain growers with in-paddock snail and slug pest control.
Protection from pest snails has become more important for grain growers in Western Australia as a result of minimum tillage and stubble-retention practices.
These systems improve soil moisture and the organic content of paddocks, leading to improved survival of the pests.
Snails damage the seeds of plants, particularly those of legumes, recently germinated seeds, seedlings and leaves, and can be a significant contaminant of grain at harvest that results in the costly downgrading of grain.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development field research, conducted with Stirlings to Coast Farmers with co-investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation, found small conical snails were more likely to encounter baits when they were evenly spread.
However, achieving an even bait spread could be difficult.
Department research officer Svetlana Micic said the SnapBait app was designed and funded by the department to assist with calibrating bait spreaders.
“An even spread of baits across paddocks increases the chance that slugs and snails will feed on them, reducing the need for re-baiting,” Ms Micic said.
“Growers must calibrate their spreader with the intended bait product by spreading a pass and either measuring or visually assessing the width that baits are distributed.
“SnapBait assists visual assessments by counting the baits in a single photo taken using a smartphone or a selected equivalent photo from the in-app gallery, and providing an estimated density of baits per square metre, improving bait spread.
“The app is easy to use and includes on-the-go tips and 12 sample photos to test-run its functionality.”
A standard sized card, such as a credit card, must be included in the photo for the app to use as a reference of the bait size, and users are advised to take more than one photograph every metre in a transect over the spread width.
SnapBait was developed to detect blue or green baits on an even background, such as gravel, bitumen, concrete or level, bare ground, onto which the baits should be spread for calibration purposes.
Each photo and result can be saved with date, time and GPS coordinates, and a label and notes can be added to each result.
The calibration tool is part of a suite of apps developed by the department and co-collaborators and co-investors to assist growers and consultants in the field.
SnapBait can be downloaded from the department website or your app store.
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