Over 120 farmers from across Australia tuned in to view this week’s Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) emergency internet broadcast to discuss mouse control.
The broadcast featured a video discussion with key experts from the National Mouse Management Working Group and the regulator the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), who responded to questions sent from growers and industry members viewing from their computers around Australia.
GRDC Communications Manager Kylie Paulsen said the successful use of interactive broadcasts such as this was an effective way for GRDC to provide up to the minute information directly to growers and to engage in a two way conversation.
“This innovative technology allows GRDC to get even closer to growers and respond quickly to their questions and issues, in this case the changing situation in mouse numbers and control,” she said.
Panellists taking part in the mouse broadcast confirmed that persisting mouse numbers and a wet summer could see Australia experience the worst mouse plague in living memory by late spring-summer 2011-12.
Current major hotspots are the Eyre Peninsula and Northern Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, the western Victorian Mallee and the southern Riverina in NSW. The panel urged growers to check their crops and to start using bait if they noticed any damage.
Questions from growers viewing the broadcast included what to look for in their crops, and whether emergency permits for regional bait mixing would be extended.
The panel confirmed that earlier in the year there had been an unprecedented demand for zinc phosphide bait which resulted in the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) approving a number of emergency permits in 2011, including permits for regional manufacture of zinc phosphide bait.
While APVMA emergency permits for bait stations expire at the end of this week, the APVMA will issue another permit to allow growers to use the bait already purchased at the stations till the end of November.
There was also considerable discussion and grower questions around cost of bait, and why farmers could not mix their own baits on farm. Manager Crop Protection with the GRDC, Dr Rohan Rainbow, told viewers some areas could experience a yield loss in excess of 25% if mice numbers are not controlled.
“The most expensive bait is the bait that growers don’t use, if they then experienced damage to their crops from mice,” he said.
However Dr Rainbow also confirmed there was new work underway that may see other bait options available next season.
“A joint research project to develop an occupational health and safety package to potentially support future on-farm batching of mouse baits has now been approved for investment by the GRDC,” Dr Rainbow said.
“The research will take up to 12 months to complete, and the outcome will be subject to APVMA review.”
The full broadcast including all questions put to the panel is available online. To view the vodcast go to the GRDC website or visit http://vioca.st/GRDC_Mouse_Contro l_Broadcast