THE DISTRIBUTORS of a rain-fast slug bait have said a water tolerant product is critical to getting a good kill on the pest.
Animal Control Technologies imports its Sluggoff slug and snail bait from Germany and says that given slugs and snails are active in wet conditions a product that stands up to moisture is critical in achieving good kills rates.
ACT managing director Linton Staples said bait degradation was a critical reason farmers did not get good control over slugs and snails.
"If the bait gets broken down you've got less bait points and with the high slug numbers many farmers are experiencing there are just too many slugs that don't get controlled," Dr Staples said.
"The other baits might work in dry conditions, I'm not sure, but you're going to have the most problems with these invetebrates in the wetter years meaning having a bait that is not breaking down after a rain is critical."
Slugs and snails have emerged as a major problem right across the country, not only in their southern heartland, this season due to near ideal breeding conditions.
"We had a mild summer and lots of stubble residue, it is no surprise we are seeing these numbers," said Cesar Australia pest management specialist Paul Umina.
"There are damaging numbers in a number of crops, not just canola, but even in cereal crops," Ass Prof Umina said.
As a result of the high slug burden there has been a high demand for slug bait.
Dr Staples said more supplies of Sluggoff were expected in the country soon.
"We were aware of the need for a lot of product and were proactive and got orders in, but unfortunately the issues with global supply chains have meant some delays," he said.
"However the supplies are just about here and they will be rolled out to the growers very quickly."
Sluggoff is the one of the best known slug baits but there are other cheaper products on the market.
The price differential on a per kilo basis is significant, however some other products are not as water fast and efficacy can be impacted.
While the cost of water tolerant slug bait, at a recommended application rate working out at $30 a hectare is expensive, Dr Staples said it was a good return on investment.
"You can either spend that money and get on top of the problem and run down numbers to ensure it does not become an annual problem, or you can try and cut corners and use cheaper products or use low rates.
"What history has shown us that using ineffective or insufficient product, whatever the problem, is not going to help you in the long run."
The Sluggoff bait is designed with a high rate of the active ingredient metaldehyde, roughly double the cheaper product.
"It has a high concentration of the active ingredient so you can use the bait at much lower application rates and get the same efficacy."
Dr Staples said the German design team behind the product had done research on the best shape for the bait.
"Snails and slugs feed by rasping and have small mouths so a thin disc shape, like that of a lentil, is perfect."