CROPPING

Harvesting clean to reduce mouse risk

MOUSE experts are encouraging growers to focus on a clean harvest this season, as reducing harvest losses not only increases on-farm profitability but also enhances future baiting effectiveness.

Staff Writer
 CSIRO researcher Steve Henry says reducing harvest losses not only boosts your bottom line but also increases future baiting effectiveness. Photo: CSIRO.

CSIRO researcher Steve Henry says reducing harvest losses not only boosts your bottom line but also increases future baiting effectiveness. Photo: CSIRO.

Leading mouse experts spoke recently at the National Mouse Group Meeting, which is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), about the link between harvest losses and baiting effectiveness.

CSIRO lead mouse researcher, Steve Henry, said measuring and preventing harvest losses should be a key consideration for growers seeking to prevent mouse activity.

"Mouse numbers are patchy overall, with most areas reporting low or nil mouse activity, but food resources left in paddocks after harvest could sustain mouse breeding and lead to higher mouse numbers when next year's winter crops are sown," Henry said.

"We know grain on ground has a significant impact on bait effectiveness. So if you're leaving kilos of grain on ground at harvest then the effectiveness of baiting in autumn will be reduced.

"Reducing harvest losses not only increases baiting effectiveness but also boosts your bottom line."

Henry said growers should continue to check header set up throughout harvest.

"As you're changing paddocks, don't assume header set up is correct for every paddock- check and reset as needed," he said.

"Ongoing measurement and readjustment is key to leaving less grain on the ground.

"It's really important to measure harvest losses, and there are measuring devices out there to do the job."

GRDC said baiting with products containing 50 g/kg zinc phosphide (ZnP50) appears to be highly effective - with low numbers of mice reported when bait is applied in late winter.

However, despite low mouse activity reported around Australia, it warns growers to  keep an eye on mouse numbers through stubble to ensure there are no spikes in numbers as next sowing season approaches.

GRDC manager pests, Leigh Nelson, said there are several resources available to assist growers in reducing and measuring their harvest losses.

"GRDC Harvester Set-Up Workshops provide growers with information relating to preventable harvester losses, improvements in efficiency and output, calibrating harvester technology, reducing the risk of harvester fires, and methods of harvest weed seed control," Nelson said.

"In addition to the workshops, resources are available on the GRDC website including mouse monitoring updates and management recommendations to keep growers informed."

MORE INFORMATION

A full list of mouse management resources can be found on the GRDC Mouse Management page.

There are also several resources available on measuring harvest losses:
Harvester losses fact sheet
Harvest loss goals as grain percentage
Harvest Loss Calculator
Measure harvest losses to save time and make money

Growers are encouraged to report and map mouse activity using the MouseAlert website.

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