Selontra rodenticide proves more tempting than macadamias
Aaron Thompson and Adam Meech, his business partner in their new ‘Northmac’ venture, have had a pretty rocky – not to mention ratty – introduction to macadamia growing. When they took over a 34,000-tree orchard at Oakenden near Mackay last October, they quickly discovered rodent control had to be their first priority.
“There was a massive, massive rat infestation,” Aaron says. The property had been let go and had become quite rundown. While that created a great investment opportunity for the Northmac partners, it was also a huge challenge in the short term.
“You could see the problem straight away,” Aaron recalls. “You couldn’t go down a row without seeing a rat, a rat nest or a rat hole every 20 metres. There were nests in the trees and damage everywhere on the ground. They were destroying the irrigation, eating product directly out of the trees, destroying everything. There were truckloads of rats. It was really, really bad. The worst we’ve ever seen. We had to go into a massive eradication program straight away.”
One of the early suggestions from Aaron’s agronomist, Tim O’Dea of Ag-Plus Consulting, was to try baiting with Selontra® Soft Bait rodenticide from BASF. Tim was aware of Selontra’s registration for use in macadamias, but had yet to see it in action. “He said there was a new product out,” Aaron explains, “and we were keen to try everything we could.”
Corey Pearce, from Northmac Farms, displays a Selontra baiting station in use in the Macadamia orchard.
Both Tim and Aaron have been impressed by the impact Selontra has had. They had put out other baits as well, and there was a very noticeable difference.
“We were trying a whole mixture of things,” Aaron says, “but we soon noticed that they were eating the Selontra more than anything else. There was still so much food source around that they weren’t touching any of the other baits. But when we checked the Selontra stations, the bait was gone. We could see they were going for it, which was fantastic.”
Northmac have had people in the orchard full-time since the day they took over, cleaning the rats out block by block. They are pumping carbon monoxide into the rat holes in the ground wherever they find them, but there are many more rats nesting in the trees. Controlling them relies on Selontra’s ability to attract them to the secure bait boxes – and it's working.
Once they knew it was outperforming the other baits, Aaron and his team started ordering larger quantities of Selontra to increase the baiting program. Tim O’Dea had contacted BASF on Northmac’s behalf to check best practice for use of the Selontra bait. “I got in touch with Aaron and Tim to see how we could assist and found they were having a lot of success dealing with a really tough situation,” explains Mark Wilson, BASF’s Technical Services Manager.
Mark says palatability is a key issue in macadamia orchards, and that’s why Selontra works so well. “You get a lot of roof rats that nest in the trees and when they’re up there feasting on macadamias, you need something really attractive to get them to switch food sources. We have total confidence in Selontra’s palatability as long as the bait stations are placed in high traffic areas. If an infestation is patchy, growers need to identify the ‘hot spots’ in the orchard where rats are active and bait there. In Northmac’s case, that problem didn’t really arise because there were rats everywhere!”
While Aaron wasn’t really aware of BASF’s product range until he turned to Selontra to help manage the Northmac infestation, he says there’s every chance this positive experience will encourage him to try other BASF products in future. In the meantime, he’s pleased to say they are slowly winning the battle to clean out the orchard. “It’s a lot better now. We’re seeing less than half of what there previously was already. It is a mammoth task, but we’re getting there!”
For more information on Selontra Soft Bait rodenticide, visit crop-solutions.basf.com.au or contact your local BASF representative on 1800 558 399.