AgriSearch are hosting a webinar on Thursday evening next, March 10 at 8pm to highlight the issue that leatherjackets pose for Northern Ireland grassland farmers.

Leatherjackets (the larvae of crane fly) feed on the roots and stems of grass or cereal plants and can cause significant damage from loss of yield and the presence of large bare patches. In particular, grass reseeds and new leys can be devastated if leatherjackets are not controlled. With chemical control substances no longer available this can pose a significant challenge.

A European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project led by AgriSearch and involving four farmers from County Fermanagh is currently investigating the extent of the leatherjacket problem and aims to test integrated pest management strategies to mitigate the problem. The EIP project is jointly funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The webinar will commence with Prof Rod Blackshaw giving a historic look at Leatherjackets in Northern Ireland followed by Dr Archie Murchie (AFBI) discussing the ways in which they impact grassland production and the challenges that controlling them presents. The aims of the EIP project and results to date will also be presented including the findings of a recent online survey regarding the extent of the leatherjacket problem and current strategies for their control.

Finally John Egerton, a participating farmer in the EIP project will provide the challenges faced on farm as a result of leatherjackets with Aisling Moffat (Teagasc PhD) providing a wider view on leatherjacket prevalence on farms across the island of Ireland. The webinar will also give plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion.

Full details of the event and registration details are available on the AgriSearch website.