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Developing an IPM Program against Slug Populations in Mid-Atlantic No-Till Grain Fields

2013 Grantee: Pennsylvania State University

Funding Awarded: $159,632

Fact Sheet PDF (1pg, 384k, About PDF)


This project will document the benefits of using integrated pest management (IPM) to combat early season invertebrate pests of corn and soybeans in comparison to preventative, neonicotinoid seed treatments. Neonicotinoids have quickly become one of the most popular insecticides in the world, including as preventative seed coatings. Hundreds of millions of acres of corn, soybean, cotton and other field crops are planted annually with neonicotinoid seed treatments (NSTs). Recent research has documented that NSTs may be exacerbating slug populations by disrupting biological control. Slugs are a challenging pest faced by Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. field crop growers. To combat growing slug infestations, Penn State will build on previous research and test an alternative approach to slug management that avoids NSTs and uses rye cover crops to provide an alternative food source for slugs while maintaining strong populations of slug predators. This project will produce a research-supported IPM program against slugs.


  • Determine the influence of a fall-established rye cover crop on slug and natural enemy populations and slug damage to corn and soybeans.
  • Compare corn and soybean productivity and biological control of slugs in presence and absence of neonicotinoid seed treatments.
  • Share research findings with Mid-Atlantic field and forage crop growers and other agricultural professionals at regional meetings.

Programs and Activities

Research: Penn State University will conduct collaborative, on-farm research with local members of the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance to study the influence of rye cover crop on slug populations in corn and soybeans in comparison to the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

Outreach and Knowledge Transfer: The IPM program will be promoted through Penn State Extension, county-based conservation districts, and other partners. Field days will be organized at research sites, and results will be discussed during Extension events with audiences of thousands of growers across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Results will be distributed through Penn State Extension’s Field Crop News, distributed to 1,500 subscribers each week.

Desired Outcomes

  • A research-supported IPM program against slugs distributed widely to growers and stakeholders.
  • Documentation of the benefits of using IPM to combat early season invertebrate pests (insects and slugs) of corn and soybeans compared to preventative, neonicotinoid seed treatments.
  • 600,000 acres (20%) of Mid-Atlantic no-till corn/soybean acreage will adopt a slug IPM program and reduce reliance on preventative seed treatments.
  • Decreased use of pesticides for slug control.

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