Grain growers planning to bait mice at seeding and through the growing season are encouraged to pay particular attention to the set-up and performance of their equipment to ensure optimum baiting impact.
Experts supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation say while a number of different approaches to spreading mouse bait are available to growers, in all instances it is critical that equipment is calibrated to deliver bait at the required label rate to enhance success.
Agricultural engineer Ben White said bait could be applied via a number of mechanisms, including air commodity carts, 12-volt broadcast spreaders, conventional linkage and trailing machines and bespoke innovations.
‘‘If growers opt to spread mouse bait at the time of seeding, they can use the small seeds box or small seed meter rollers of their air commodity cart for metering the bait, and dedicated air line for distribution,’’ Mr White said.
‘‘This ensures the uniformity of seed and fertiliser across the seeding bar is not impacted.
‘‘The small seeds box or small seed meter rollers are often used because the bait application rate of 1kg/ha is low.’’
Using a single spinner attached to a 12-volt motor, Mr White said 12-volt broadcast spreaders could be mounted to a vehicle, quad-bike or tractor, with hopper capacity between 30 and 100 litres with a single spinner powered by a 12-volt motor.
‘‘Typically spreading mouse bait to about 24m, the 12-volt broadcast spreaders use a choke to adjust the flow of bait on to the spinner,’’ he said.
‘‘While some designs use the spinner rotation to meter bait through the choke, others have a choke shut-off so the spinner can continue to rotate and a door starts or stops the flow of bait to the spinner.’’
Mr White said linkage and trailing spreaders could also be used to spread mouse bait.
‘‘The primary challenge with using these larger spreaders is achieving the very low baiting rate of 1kg/ha,’’ he said.
‘‘Some linkage and trailing spreaders with scales and computer-controlled metering chokes have settings for small seeds which may deliver a 1kg/ha rate.’’
According to Mr White, innovative growers have also built and modified equipment for spreading mouse bait.
‘‘These include using conventional belt spreaders to carry a mouse bait hopper in the bin with other products,’’ he said.
‘‘The bait hopper is fitted with a separate metering door and bait spreader plates, allowing bait to be spread concurrently and thereby saving a working pass.’’
Mr White reminds growers and bait application operators to wear appropriate personal protective equipment when baiting with zinc phosphide.
■To assist growers with their mouse baiting programs, the GRDC has made new resources available for viewing at: www.grdc.com.au/mousecontrol and via the GRDC YouTube channel at: goo.gl/75e4Vz