Grain growers are being encouraged to keep a close eye on mouse activity over the coming crop growing season and regularly record their observations via MouseAlert.
MouseAlert is a Grains Research and Development Corporation-funded website and smart phone app aimed at improving early warning of possible plagues to enable a rapid response to increases in mouse activity.
Pest management authorities say it is important that growers and advisers record their observations, regardless of whether mice are present or not.
“We need to know where the mice are and where they aren’t so we can develop a better picture of their distribution and monitor any changes in populations,” says CSIRO research officer, Steve Henry.
“Through MouseAlert, growers can also easily see what is happening in their local areas in real time, enabling them to be on the front foot with their mouse management programs,” Mr Henry said.
“Since the launch of MouseAlert, we have been able to collect a lot of data about the distribution and population density of mice but more data is required.
“We want farmers to continue to use MouseAlert as often as they can – for their own benefit and that of their farming neighbours, as well as for research purposes,” Mr Henry said. “Even discovering where there are no mice is extremely important."
MouseAlert was used by growers and advisers to record mouse activity on properties during the nation’s first-ever Mouse Census Week in April which aimed to provide farmers, the grains industry and researchers with an unprecedented bank of data about mice in agricultural areas.
The census was initiated by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) with the support of the GRDC.
“We collected about 150 records during the census – information that we would not have otherwise been able to achieve in such a short time,” said Mr Henry, who helped to co-ordinate the census.
“It was a good starting point to receive that number of entries, but we need more. We want to obtain as much information as we can – knowledge is power. If we can establish a good ongoing dataset it will help us to develop better models to predict mouse outbreaks.”
Information obtained during the census indicated that mouse activity was continuing in parts of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and Mid North, but elsewhere numbers were low or non-existent.
Because mouse populations can change rapidly, growers in all parts of the southern cropping region are advised to remain vigilant over the coming months.
Mr Henry says it is easy for farmers to record mouse activity/inactivity by using MouseAlert on their smart phone, tablet or computer.
Mr Henry will be conducting his routine mouse monitoring field work between June 10 and 21 and to complement his research he is hopeful that as many farmers as possible will enter data about mouse activity on their farms during June.
Farmers can get MouseAlert on the MouseAlert website or download the FeralScan app which features MouseAlert (available in the iTunes store). Progress can be followed on Twitter @MouseAlert.
An android version of the MouseAlert App is in development and is expected to soon be available.
These mouse-monitoring programs are funded by the GRDC in collaboration with Landcare Research New Zealand, CSIRO and NSW Department of Primary Industries through the IACRC.
Information on methods of mouse control is available via the MouseAlert website, the GRDC Fact Sheet, a GRDC Hot Topic or the PestSmart Connect toolkit.
Steve Henry, CSIRO
0428 633 844
Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675 100
Caption: Mallala (SA) grain grower and GRDC Southern Regional Panel member Richard Konzag using the MouseAlert app.
GRDC Project Code
IAC00001 and IAC00002