WithTheGrain: Mice monitoring essential in continuous cropping program

Author: | Date: 11 Jan 2018

Low-rainfall zone grower and Regional Cropping Solutions Network member Andrew Biele has discovered an unexpected bonus from the farm management practice of rolling the ground before seeding to flatten it for legume crops – mouse control.

As operations manager of the Bulla Burra cooperative farming enterprise near Alawoona in the South Australian Mallee, Andrew is responsible for a 12,000-hectare continuous cropping program featuring half cereals and half legumes and oilseeds, including chickpeas, canola, lupins, lentils, field peas and vetch.

“We roll the ground to make it easier to harvest the legumes that are closer to the ground and this year we found it’s also closing in the mouse holes, so that slowed the mice down a bit,” he says.

“We did not get the growing season rainfall we were hoping for and we’ve had quite a few more frosts than usual. But as harvest is continuing and we’ve had a wet start to the summer, the food source is being created and we’re seeing a lot of mice activity.

“A heavy rain in November knocked a lot of legume and cereal seed onto the ground, providing a food source for the mice they would not normally have.

“They’re going to multiply quite quickly so we could have a lot of problems come seeding time, especially if we don’t get any more summer rains.”

 

Andrew Biele

Andrew Biele says one technique which has previously been successful in helping to control mice numbers is baiting at the same time as seeding.

Andrew says their usual farm management strategy is to keep summer weeds at bay, which assists with preventing mice population growth.

“We hope for summer rains to germinate the weeds so we can spray them out,” he says.

“We will look to bait prior to seeding as we have done previously and at this stage we are not going to go out and do a special mouse baiting.”

He says one technique which has previously been successful is baiting at the same time as seeding.

“By having the baiters on the seeder, we’re burying the food source - the seed - and dropping the bait directly on top of the ground so the mice are more likely to take it as an easy food source,” he says.

“Because we keep the ground weed free, the mice tend to have higher numbers on the edge of the crops along the scrub. As soon as we see activity in that area, we go into a more intense monitoring program. We will seed and monitor and be prepared.”

More information

Andrew Biele
andrewbiele@bigpond.com
0439 927 782