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Farmers encouraged to attend free snail dissecting workshops in WA’s Great Southern

Olivia FordCountryman
Exotic snail species cause major headaches for South Coast growers. Pictured are small conical snails in harvested canola.
Camera IconExotic snail species cause major headaches for South Coast growers. Pictured are small conical snails in harvested canola. Credit: Supplied

Snail dissecting workshops are being held in WA’s Great Southern this month to provide farmers with an insight into the agricultural pests’ reproductive system in a bid to improve baiting efforts.

Exotic snail species such as the small conical snail cause major headaches for South Coast growers as they contaminate grain and attack emerging broad-acre crops.

The most reliable way to determine snail fertility is by dissecting snails and inspecting their albumen glands.

From there, farmers can determine the most effective time to bait for the pests, which is usually before most eggs are laid.

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Small conical snails on canola.
Camera IconSmall conical snails on canola. Credit: DPIRD/RegionalHUB

Grower group Stirlings to Coast Farmers (SCF) is running the free workshops in collaboration with the South East Premium Wheatgrowers Association and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation is funding the initiative as part of its Snails Surveillance for the South Coast baiting program.

SCF chief executive Lizzie Von Perger said the workshops would provide farmers with “valuable insight” into the reproductive phases of snails.

“Snails pose a serious threat to many crops and farmers often struggle with knowing when to best apply control measures,” she said.

“These workshops will empower growers with the knowledge, skills, data and tools to help them make strategic decisions on bait timing and minimise crop loss.”

Stirlings To Coast CEO Lizzie von Perger.
Camera IconStirlings To Coast CEO Lizzie von Perger. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Ms Perger said the dissecting program was part of a bigger initiative to curb the exotic snail problem along the South Coast.

“The workshops will not only give them the opportunity to learn the art of snail dissection but to also contribute actively to the Snails Surveillance for the South Coast baiting initiative,” she said.

“For those who choose to continue their involvement after the workshops, SCF, with investment from GRDC is offering some valuable incentives.”

Farmers and advisers who go on to participate in the surveillance program will receive their own microscope, snail dissection gear and financial compensation for their time.

The workshops will be held on February 14 in Mount Barker and South Stirling, and February 15 in Ravensthorpe and Esperance.

For more information contact Phil Honey on 0428 768 589.

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