Leatherjackets, the larvae of crane flies, can cause significant destruction to grassland yields in Northern Ireland, thus having an economic impact on the profitability of dairy, beef and sheep production systems. Prior to 2016, leatherjacket populations in NI were controlled by the use of chlorpyrifos, however, the withdrawal of such products has resulted in an increased requirement for additional mitigation strategies, such as Integrated Pest Management, in order to control populations.

This project, consisting of a group of farmers and research experts, aims to determine the problem surrounding leatherjacket populations across four farms in Fermanagh and the factors which may influence their prevalence. This will aid in the proposal of alternative strategies which may influence future decisions made on the farm. Additionally, the project will investigate anecdotal reports from farmers who suggest grazing strategies have an influence on the prevalence of leatherjackets.

Overall, the project group aims to minimise the dependence on agrochemicals in production systems through the development of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and aim to educate farmers to improve their understanding of intervention methods that exclude the use of pesticides, in order to prevent avoidable losses to grazing resources. Results from this project will be disseminated across a range of media to improve the uptake of IPM strategies. They will also be used to validate a weather-based model to predict grub numbers and enable pre-emptive mitigation strategies in the summer/autumn months to prevent infestation in the spring.

Project objectives include:

  • Survey of Leatherjackets populations
  • Monitoring of influencing factors
  • Assessment of the impact of leatherjackets on grassland
  • Identification of mitigation strategies
  • Validation of a predictive model

Project outcomes:

  • Development of a practical, economic and environmentally sustainable control strategy relevant to Northern Ireland
  • Improved utilisation of grass resource on-farm
  • Prevention of unwarranted use of unapproved pesticides

This project, as part of the European Innovation Partnership is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). 

Read the project launch article here.

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See here for more information on EAFRD. 

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