Evolution of Pest Management
Pest management is evolving, with an ever-growing emphasis on minimising chemical usage to help protect our environment. After the announcement by the Red Tractor assurance scheme (https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/RTStandardsV5_Crops_SINGLES.pdf), rodenticide (rat poison) can no longer be used in grain stores where product is being stored. This has presented a range of challenges that need to be overcome when managing rodents in Grain Stores and Farms.
It is a good thing that the archaic approach of relying on rodenticide application, rather than working together with customers to establish what causes pest infestations, is changing. Used correctly, rodenticide will remove the target rodent, but education around why the rodent is there and measures to prevent them thriving will offer a long-term sustainable solution.
The key to any successful pest management plan is to restrict food, water and harbourage. When this is achieved, the rodents can no longer establish in any great numbers and control is much easier. In the context of farms and grain stores, proofing of buildings prevents access to food and keeping undergrowth cut back around the farm buildings removes the harbourages.
The Alternatives for Grain Stores and Farms
There are several ways to control rodents that do not require the use of rodenticide. These include:
- Culling with airguns
- Using breakback traps
- And, as a last resort, the use of glue boards
All of these solutions have their pros and cons, and the correct option becomes apparent during a pest survey where population density, environmental and commercial factors are taken into account.
Recently, with the advancements of technology, culling with airguns (especially when using them in combination with thermal imaging and night vision optics) has proven to be a very cost-effective way to manage rodent populations. This is especially true when there is an abundance of alternative food sources, or a large population of rats is present.
The final area that is often overlooked by conventional pest control is the promotion of natural predators. A helpful, environment- focused method of managing rodents in Grain Stores and Farms, they can be a viable element. Where there is not a large population present, creating the habitat and encouraging natural predators such as owls not only helps reduce rodent numbers but also aids bio-diversity around the farm.
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