Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
As floodwaters move through New South Wales, farmers are finding their levees have been compromised by holes and burrows left by mice at the height of the mouse plague. Richard Heath, the executive director of the Australian Farm Institute, said the tunnels and nests created by mice are particularly problematic during wet weather. Major rainfall events over the last few weeks across Australia’s east have caused multiple flood peaks, which continue to move through the Condamine-Balonne and border rivers in Queensland, and the Lachlan, Namoi and Barwon rivers in NSW.
As floodwaters approached Bedgerabong from the burst banks of the Lachlan River, wheat and canola farmer Scott Darcy was checking his boundary levee every day, ready to fill the holes left by mice. The problem is often amplified by foxes following the mice, creating even bigger holes in the levee, Heath said. If landholders only discover the holes after floodwaters have arrived, it can be too late. If it’s machinery only used occasionally, you only notice when you get it out. Many farmers have also been plagued by mouse faces, with their grain rejected because of contamination.
Many farmers have also been plagued by mouse faces, with their grain rejected because of contamination. “You can drive a truck all the way from the inland paddocks down to the port and not realise you’re about to be rejected,” Xavier Martin, the vice-president of NSW Farmers, said in November. “There’s a big cost just for the transported grain to be returned back to the farm.” He said many mice survived through to September but “the torrential rain has given them a lot of swimming lessons”.