By GRDC northern region panellist Rob Taylor
Technology looks set to play a key role in the monitoring of mouse activity this season with growers able to access up-to-date and locally relevant information from their tablet, smartphone or computer.
MouseAlert is an innovative website and mobile app that enables growers to record and view mouse activity in their local area.
Users are able to access fact sheets and management recommendations to help them decide whether or not mice control is needed during key periods in the cropping cycle such as prior to planting, during crop emergence and in the lead up to harvest.
Developed by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Landcare Research New Zealand, CSIRO, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), MouseAlert was a key monitoring tool in the recent inaugural national Mouse Census Week.
Mouse Census Week provided growers right across Australia with a snapshot of mouse `hot spots’ to help them determine whether numbers are at levels that could pose a risk to newly-sown crops.
The GRDC is recommending that growers keep a close eye on mouse numbers in the lead up to and during winter crop sowing despite recent the census showing low mouse abundance in most areas of the northern region except near Macalister where populations have been moderate.
Nevertheless even when mouse numbers are low, growers need to remain vigilant as mouse populations can increase rapidly as soon as the conditions favour them and, with little warning, farmers can have a costly and escalating problem.
MouseAlert is a significant step forward in helping growers manage mouse populations but as with everything, the information provided will only be as comprehensive as the data submitted – the more growers that lodge reports, the more informative the data.
Importantly, it is just as critical to record non-sightings or low sightings as it is to report high levels of activity.
Establishing a good dataset will enable researchers to develop better plague prediction models and as anyone who remembers devastating plagues like 1993 knows, these advance warnings could save growers thousands of dollars.
Caption: Rob Taylor, GRDC Northern Region Panellist, Macalister Qld.
Rob Taylor, GRDC Northern Region Panellist, Macalister
0427 622 203
Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827
GRDC Project Code