I thought some of you in wetter parts of the world might find this study interesting!
Slugs are a serious pest of cereal crops, and recent emphasis in slug pest management has shifted from solely chemical towards integrated approaches. The objective of the present research was to test if boosted silicon (Si) and calcium (Ca) levels in wheat seedlings can reduce slug grazing. Laboratory experiments were conducted in which wheat seedlings were grown firstly, with soluble Si and Ca (with and without additional mineral N) or secondly, with six levels of soluble Si, and consumption of leave sections by the field slug (Deroceras reticulatum) was measured. Boosted foliar Si concentrations reduced consumption significantly (P < 0.001) compared to an untreated control and Ca treatments in a no-choice setting; a similar trend (P < 0.10), but with a higher variability, was observed in a simultaneous choice setting. It is shown for the first time that increasing the nominal Si concentration of treatment solutions in a geometric series (from 0 to 6 g sodium metasilicate nonahydrate l−1) translated into a logarithmic increase in foliar Si concentrations (from 5.0 to 19.4 g Si kg−1 dry weight). When these leaves were offered simultaneously (choice setting), wheat leaves containing less than 10 g Si kg−1 were consumed preferentially by D. reticulatum (P < 0.001), suggesting that Si concentrations as low as 1 % leaf dry weight may be effective at reducing grazing by slugs. It is concluded that boosting Si levels in cereals has potential as a novel tool in crop protection against pest slugs and snails. Various open research questions to advance this tool are identified.
I discovered this after listening to some of Rudolf Steiners agriculture course and then doing some searches with slugs and slica. So its interesting that Steiners emphasis on Ca and Si rather than NPK could be the answer to my ongoing slug issue. Its also interesting to note that my clay soil is abundant with Ca rich limestone.
I dont have access to the whole study but I would assume soluble Si would be molecules like silica, so in true biodynamic style I will be acquiring some horsetail to try this out.
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