14 August 2018

Pests on farms and in grain stores

Agriculture | PestAware

As soon as you start to accumulate large amounts of food in one place, pests will always become a problem. We take a look at the pest problems farms and grain stores have and ask what should you expect from your pest controller.

As one client recently remarked to me when I arrived on his site after harvest - "I hope you know what you're doing, I'm storing 2000 tonnes of rat food!"

And he was right!

Pests on farms and grain stores

Pest controllers who 'take on' farms are very different to pest controllers who do your day-to-day rat and mouse work in houses and offices. They have to really know their onions. With so many food alternatives to rodenticide, you have to think like a rat to win the rodent war.


As always, excluding pests from the grain store is the first line of defence.

A good professional won't just rodenticide up around the farm. They will also do some 'proofing' work to keep grain stores pest proof. This might be a simple as sticking a bit of wire wool in a gap or applying some mouse-proof mastic (rather inventively called Mouse-Stop).

Some people might think this a big task but making a little improvement on every visit, you soon end up with rodent-hostile surroundings.

Some people might think this a big task but doing a little improvement on every visit

Site visits 

Then there is the question of visit frequency. Different companies follow different procedures.

Some still follow the traditional agricultural pest calendar: eight visits in the year, clustering around the cold months and you won't see them much in the summer.

This is a little archaic now. In 2011, The Environment Agency successfully argued in the law courts that this 'traditional' schedule of visits is environmentally irresponsible.

Some will visit every six weeks and throw in extra visits if there is a problem, but even this is becoming dated.

Responsible use of rodent poison

The new Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) rules stipulate that if the rodenticide is put down, then it should only be in response to a live infestation. If you have to resort to rodenticide, then a proper site environmental assessments needs to be done to help prevent secondary poisoning.

Rodenticides should never be used for monitoring purposes as this could cause undue risk of harm to the surrounding environment.

Naturally, this pushes us towards monthly visits as a minimum and, especially, a heavy focus on proofing and habitat management.

Rodenticides do harm the environment when misused

After the introduction of the Biocides Products Regulation (BPR) in Europe, rodenticides were one of the first groups of chemicals to be analysed for safety. The result was clear. Rodenticides do harm the environment when misused, and we are only allowed to hang onto them because there is no viable alternative.

But levels of rodenticide residue in the wild food chain are being closely monitored and it won't take much to change the minds of the regulators.

How to hire a professional pest controller for your farm

It is up to us to ensure pest control is being carried out professionally on our farms and that includes hiring audited professionals trained to a high standard. All pest controllers belonging to the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) are audited to the British Standard EN 16636 and only employ technicians with the recognised industry qualifications.

You can find a BPCA member using the Find a pest controller tool.

The world is changing around us, LEAF, Red Tractor, CRRU and BPR are all pulling in the same direction. Environmental responsibility is key in the modern landscape. The days of gamekeepers and farm hands doing the rat baiting are moving into history. Be warned.

Martin Cobbald headMartin Cobbald
Step Pest Control
14 August 2018  |  PestAware 

Source: PestAware

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