Application of Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita (Nemaslug®)to commercial broad acre crops
Abstract: The mollusc specific parasitic nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita (Nematoda:Rhabditida) has been shown to infect and kill a number of economically important pest slug andsnail species. This beneficial nematode is available commercially under the trade nameNemaslug® (Becker Underwood Ltd., Littlehampton, UK). Use of this biological control agent bylarge commercial growers is increasing. This increase in use also includes expanding from itstraditional markets in higher value salads, to broad acre vegetables such as potatoes. Use ofP. hermaphrodita has increased in recent years on outdoor crops due to a number of factors.Firstly additional products are often needed to compliment the available chemicals (e.g.Methiocarb, Metaldehyde and Ferric phosphate) in sub-terranian environments where they areoften not as effective. Secondly there is a drive for more environmentally sensitive farmingpractices of which biological control, as part of an integrated pest management program, is animportant component.This expansion into new markets, such as potatoes, has presented a number of challenges inapplying these microscopic worms. Application of these soft bodied nematodes now needs to becarried out to large areas over long periods of time. To enable a grower to be able to do this,nematode specific application equipment has been developed. The Wroot water Nemaslug Xtraapplicator is an injection unit which, whilst being able to inject nematodes into irrigation waterfor a boom or gun, can keep the nematode solution constantly agitated and supplied with oxygen.This system has been shown to be able to keep the nematodes alive and mixed in suspension forover 24 hours. This equipment allows a grower the increased flexibility of no longer having towait for rain to apply and reduced application labour costs by not having to spend time sprayingP. hermaphrodita onto the crop with a tractor mounted boom.The Wroot water Nemaslug Xtra applicator is the first ever piece of nematode specificapplication equipment developed. This equipment has been designed, built and made availablefor commercial growers, specifically for use of applying the biocontrol agent P. hermaphrodita(Nemaslug® Xtra) to broad acre vegetable crops.