Leatherjackets on the Rise

A new field lab, based in Scotland, is looking to tackle the rising population of leatherjackets. Coordinator, David Michie has one non-chemical control which you can try on your own farm this year.

Leatherjackets, the larvae of crane-flies or daddy long-legs, have been increasingly prevalent across the British Isles as chemical control goes out of favour or is banned. 

The larvae of a leatherjacket eats the roots and shoots of barley, oats and wheat, as well as grass. Finding a solution which works for everyone is important.  A group of Innovative Farmers working at a field lab near Whithorn in Dumfries and Galloway has taken the lead in looking into a solution.

The field lab has split a field in two, to see how many leatherjackets were present, before treating one half with a garlic spray, and leaving the other side untreated. The field will be left until spring when it will then be analysed to see if the garlic spray has had any effect on the leatherjacket population.

The process to get the initial samples involved using a metal tool to take 25 cylindrical samples from both sides of the field. They were labelled before being sent to the lab - where each sample was heated from above; leading to the leatherjackets wriggling through the soil and falling into a container where they could be counted.

The samples identified that there were around 200 leatherjackets per square metre which would see a staggering estimate of 11.5 million across the whole field of 6.5 hectares.

The Innovative Farmer’s from Dumfries and Galloway will be waiting until the spring before they can confirm whether the garlic treatment has been beneficial. 

Get Involved

You can try the garlic spray experiment on your own farm, just leave half the field with no spray to see if there are any major differences. We would be more than interested to see how you get on! Contact us with your findings.

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