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Mice Control – A Challenge for Conservation Farming

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Video Transcript

I think in the new era of conservation farming, mice are gonna become an on-going issue to us. For the ten last years, we’ve basically practiced no-till farming. We’ve incorporated all our stubbles and residues, which I believe is sustainable, it’s where we’ve got to be. Unfortunately this year just due to huge mice numbers we actually burned a couple of paddocks.

Conservation Farming Conducive to Mice Population Growth

They were coming out of canola last year. We ended up baiting those paddocks three times, and we still actually didn’t really get the numbers down and just out of sheer frustration this year, we burnt them, which is certainly something we’d sooner not be doing. We don’t actually run any livestock within our operation.

I’m sure they have some benefits in terms of picking up any waste grain and reducing the food source. Unfortunately in our system they just really don’t have a fit. We try to keep all of our stubble standing and a lot of the country we farm has salinity issues, and unfortunately they tend to bear out the saline area so it just doesn’t fit what we’re doing.

Stock running through paddocks in the summer do pick out grain and reduce that food source. Our summer weed control programs has been huge particularly in the last couple of years with wet summers. We’re obviously aiming the control of summer weeds. Not only to maximize our soil moisture, but also the mice feed on the melons and a lot of the cereal, so it’s also taking the food source away from the mice.

During harvest, we’re trying to minimize our losses out of the header. Unfortunately we’re trying to cut our stubbles a little bit lower so we’re processing a lot of straw, so sometimes that can be a bit challenging. We’re now spraying all our summer weeds so we try and keep all our summer weeds to a minimum to keep the cover for the mice as little as possible.

Inherently, most of our stubble is left standing, which does create an environment that’s pretty conducive to mice.

Ben Wundersitz discusses mice control in his farming operation on the Yorke Peninsula.

Whilst no till farming and full stubble retention is where cropping systems need to be to be sustainable these system are conducive to mice problems. Maintaining soil cover is important in reducing salinity issues so whilst grazing can reduce food sources for mice in stubbles it does not fit in farming systems where salinity is an issue. Summer weed control also reduces food sources for mice and is an effective strategy in managing mice numbers. Reducing grain loss at harvest is also important.

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