Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Author: Sharon Watt

[Grain grower Richard Konzag, of Mallala in South Australia, says recording information about mouse numbers and activity on his property via the MouseAlert app was a simple but important exercise]

Grain growers across Australia are getting behind the nation’s first-ever mouse census which is being conducted this week.

Growers have begun recording mouse activity on their properties as part of Mouse Census Week which aims to provide farmers, the grains industry and researchers with an unprecedented bank of data about mouse activity in agricultural areas.

The census, initiated by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) with the support of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), is occurring before and during seeding of winter crops – a critical time for locating mouse “hot spots” and determining whether numbers are at levels that could pose a risk to newly-sown crops.

Farmers and advisers are encouraged to play a role in the census from April 13 to 19 by recording mouse activity via MouseAlert, which is a website and recently-released app aimed at improving early warning of possible plagues to enable a rapid response to increases in mouse activity.

Grain grower Richard Konzag, of Mallala in South Australia, says recording information about mouse numbers and activity on his property via the MouseAlert app was a simple but important exercise.

“The app was easy to download and it took no time for me to contribute information about the level of mouse activity on our property,” said Mr Konzag, who is also a GRDC Southern Regional Panel member.

“It is critical for growers to know what is happening in real-time in terms of mouse activity in their local regions, so the more information that is provided to MouseAlert, the better informed growers will be.”

Steve Henry, research officer with the CSIRO, says it is important that mouse activity is assessed across all grain-growing areas to identify the likelihood of large scale mouse problems in approaching growing seasons.

“This first census will identify where potential problem areas are, on the eve of the 2015 cropping season,” Mr Henry said.

“It will enable growers to look at what is happening in their areas as it happens so they can be on the front foot with their mouse management strategies.

“We want to obtain as much information as we can – knowledge is power. If we can establish a good dataset it will also help us to develop better plague prediction models.”

MouseAlert has been designed to help farmers and the grains industry track changes in mouse activity in advance of major damage occurring.

“During Mouse Census Week, farmers can easily record mouse activity and hot spots by using MouseAlert on their smartphone, tablet or computer,” Mr Henry said.

“The census depends on as many farmers as possible recording current observations of mice – whether numbers are large, small, or non-existent – over the seven days of Mouse Census Week and beyond. Even discovering where there are no mice is extremely important.”

Farmers can get MouseAlert at the website or download the FeralScan app which features MouseAlert (available in the iTunes store). Progress can be followed on Twitter @MouseAlert.

An android version of the MouseAlert App is in development and is expected to be available next month.

These mouse-monitoring programs are funded by the GRDC in collaboration with Landcare Research New Zealand, CSIRO and NSW Department of Primary Industries through the IACRC. 

Information on methods of mouse control is available via the MouseAlert website, the GRDC Mouse Control Fact Sheet, or the PestSmart Connect toolkit.



Media Interviews

Steve Henry, CSIRO
0428 633844



Kylee Carpenter, IACRC
0429 985 643

Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

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