Six strategies for snail control in rice farming

The apple snail became an invasive species in Asia through accidental introductions. (KENPEI/Wikimedia Commons)


One persistent challenge that rice farmers face is the threat of snail infestations. These voracious feeders can significantly damage rice crops, leading to reduced yields and financial losses. Snails are most active during the vulnerable stages of the rice plant, particularly within the first 30 days. Here are different control measures available to rice farmers.

Proper field drainage and timely transplanting

Keeping fields adequately drained, especially during the early stages of rice growth (below 30 days), is a crucial preventive measure. Alternatively, transplanting 25 to 30-day-old seedlings from nursery beds can help reduce vulnerability to snail damage. Proper drainage and timely transplanting disrupt snail habitats and limit their access to vulnerable crops.

Introduction of domestic ducks

Domestic ducks can be valuable allies in snail control. They are known for their voracious appetite for snails and can be introduced into rice fields during final land preparation or once the rice plants have reached the sufficient size or 30 to 35 days after transplanting. Ducks help reduce snail populations by actively foraging for them.

Handpicking snails and egg masses

A labor-intensive but effective method involves handpicking snails and crushing their egg masses. This should be done in the morning and afternoon when snails are most active. Additionally, placing bamboo stakes in fields provides egg-laying sites, making it easier to collect and destroy snail eggs.

Preventing field entry

Snails can invade rice fields from canals, rivers, and reservoirs. To prevent their entry, place barriers at the points where water enters and exits the field. Wire or woven bamboo screens or mesh bags can be used on the main irrigation water inlet and outlet to block snail access.

Transplanting methods

Transplanted rice is less vulnerable to snail damage compared to direct-seeded rice. To minimize risk, plant healthy and vigorous seedlings. It’s advisable to raise seedlings in low-density nursery beds, with a seed density of less than 100 grams per square meter. Additionally, consider delaying transplanting, opting for 25 to 30-day-old seedlings to reduce snail susceptibility.

Chemical Control

While chemical control should be a last resort, it may be necessary if other preventive measures fail. Apply them immediately after transplanting or during the seedling establishment phase in direct-seeded rice. Limit the use of chemical pesticides to rice younger than 30 days old. Responsible and precise application of chemicals is crucial to minimize harm to non-target organisms and maintain the ecological balance in rice fields. Always follow recommended guidelines for safe and effective chemical control.

Snail infestations pose a significant threat to rice farming. However, by implementing a combination of preventive measures, including proper field drainage, the introduction of ducks, handpicking, barrier installation, and responsible chemical control, rice farmers can effectively manage snail populations and safeguard rice.


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