Need to control rodents on your crops? Use birds of prey!

The great horned owl is one bird of prey that can be used to control rodents on farmland © Abigail Rumsey

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel is encouraging farmers to use barn owls (Tyto alba) to control rodent pests on their crops. They aim to attract barn owls by constructing nest boxes; so far 2,000 have been distributed to farmers. As barn owls only hunt at night, day-hunting kestrels are also being provided for to ensure a more effective rodent-targetting system. Although it has taken a while to persuade farmers in neighbouring Jordan to take up the use of barn owls in their fields, success has also been had controlling rodent populations there.

It isn’t just farmers from the Middle East that have found birds of prey to be beneficial when dealing with rodent pests. All around the world, farmers have found that this natural solution can be cheaper and less harmful to the environment than using poisons or traps. Here are some case studies of using birds of prey in agriculture: Continue reading

NZ kiwifruits hit by bacterial canker

Biosecurity New Zealand announced on Saturday that samples of New Zealand pollen have tested positive for the bacterial kiwifruit disease, Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa). Results indicate that Psa may have been present in New Zealand for a number of years. The confirmation of Psa in New Zealand comes as a huge blow to the country, where, until 18 days ago, the kiwifruit industry was considered disease-free and was happily producing and exporting a third of the worlds kiwifruits. Growers have never insured against disease because there has been no need to.