The latest mouse plague in Queensland reminds growers that weather patterns, combined with management practices such as continuous cropping, mean mice have become a fairly regular management problem, rather than a once-a-decade plague. The chart above shows the frequency of mouse eruptions during the past century.
The plague in Queensland in 1995 has been alleviated by an emergency strychnine-baiting program. Mouse experts recommend that the focus needs to be on earlier action aimed at preventing the outbreak of plagues.
A research project in Victoria is examining the impact of farm management actions to reduce the amount of food available to mice in spring and summer. These actions include minimising the spillage of grain at harvest and around silos, controlling weeds and grasses alongside crop margins, managing stubble by grazing immediately following harvest, and strategically baiting key mouse habitats in spring. The key to success is widespread farmer involvement at district level to ensure control is synchronised over large areas.
CSIRO, the Queensland Department of Lands and the Queensland Grain Growers Association are looking to develop a similar integrated management approach on the Darling Downs. Farm management practices are very different from southern Australia. Mouse experts say the challenge is to integrate knowledge of mouse populations and farming practices without compromising conservation farming.
Contact: Dr Grant Singleton 06 242 1658
North, South, West, National