Farming News - How to prevent rodents from destroying your yield & profit this harvest season

How to prevent rodents from destroying your yield & profit this harvest season

14 Oct 2021

Harvest is the busiest time of the year for any arable farmer, and the last thing farmers want to be faced with after months of hard work out in the fields is to find that a colony of rodents has descended on their stores and destroyed their yield, their profit, and their livelihood.

Yet, there are many ways, both non-chemical and chemical, to keep your valuable harvests safe from pests and prevent huge financial loss.

Helen Hall, BASF pest specialist

Here, BASF’s rural pest control specialist Helen Hall shares how to protect wheat, barley, and many other crops from being damaged or consumed by rodents during harvest season, helping to reduce crop losses and increase yields…

1.     Keep land clean and tidy

The key to avoiding crop loss is to ensure farms have a series of preventative measures in place to stop rodents from being attracted to your land and buildings in the first place. It may seem simple, but a regular tidy of your property is the first step and should become a regular part of your maintenance routine.

Remove any access to attractive food sources, so ensure feed bins are secure and clean up any spills immediately. Keep pallets and sacks to a minimum as these make for the perfect harbourage remove any rubbish or unwanted stores of straw and hay as soon as possible to give rats and mice less time to move in. Cut back vegetation and bushes around buildings to keep the perimeter open, as rats dislike open spaces and it gives predators more chance of spotting them – looking after your pest control for you.

2.    Rodent-proof buildings

Rodents can fit through surprisingly small openings – mice can get through gaps of 6mm and rats can get through gaps of 10mm - so carefully inspect any buildings, stores or outhouses for wear and tear in walls, piping, doors and windows. If possible, use a hardwearing material like metal sheeting to prevent rodents from re-entering through any compromised areas, as it’s common knowledge that rats can chew through everything from wooden posts to dry walls.

Inspect the building for any signs of an existing infestation – visible footprints at ground level or on ledges, smear marks along ledges, walls or cables, damage in structures and equipment from gnaw marks, and droppings typically found behind objects are all tell-tale signs that you’ve got a problem. Don’t forget to look at electrical wires and cabling – many farm fires have been caused by rodents chewing through wires.  

3.    Store your yield safely

Taking measures to prevent your crops from pests after harvest is just as important as pest control when growing the crops. But when it comes to storing your yield, it’s as much about reducing your losses as it is a matter of safeguarding public health. Rats can carry up to 45 dangerous diseases and spoil three times as much crop as they actually eat, thanks to the urine and droppings left behind, which can pose a serious health and safety issue.

Before harvest, ensure the stores are thoroughly cleaned ready for the new yield and inspect every inch for any entry points or damage where rodents may enter. Dry and store grains as soon after harvest as possible, and ensure storage is well-sealed. Of course, always ensure you follow the appropriate storage requirements depending on the crop grown and harvested.

4.    Use a non-resistant rodenticide

Of course, the best way to deal with an infestation is not to have them in the first place, but if all preventative measures and trapping fail, and it’s time to use a rodenticide. Ensure to choose a bait which does not contain difenacoum and bromadiolone, this is the active ingredient in many anticoagulant baits. Over time, many rodents have become resistant to these active ingredients and it will not only result in an ineffective treatment, but it will also add to your rodent problem as resistant rats breed with one another.

Instead, choose a bait with cholecalciferol as an active ingredient, like Selontra, to regain control in as few as seven days thanks to its stop-feed effect. It also benefits from being over 13 times more appetising than maize silage and over 4 times more than piglet feed, making it a perfect option for a variety of rural environments with attractive alternative food sources available. We recommend the 7-2-7 speed baiting technique.

Although BASF may be well known for providing innovative solutions to help farmers maximise yield during growing season, our pest control solutions are just as vital to helping protect crops and valuable livestock along the entire food chain.

Our rural pest control experts can help you plan the most effective pest control programme to protect your goods and premises.

Farmers and PCO’s can learn more about effective rodent management, including how to safely use Selontra, on our unique learning portal – Real Results Farm.

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