One thing all orchardists hate is waste and Bay of Plenty orchardists Geoff and Leny Leong are no exception.
The Leongs experience constant damage by rats and possums on their 7.6 ha Paengaroa orchard, where they harvest 150 avocado, 105 macadamia and 130 walnut trees annually. Facing sizeable economic losses, the problem for Geoff and Leny was how to keep on top of pests to protect their crops and trees. “We’d see rats scampering during the day,” recalls Geoff , “and in the winter you’d shine your torch down the shelter belts and see rats’ eyes shining back.” Working with New Zealand conservation technology company Goodnature, in late 2015 the Leongs established a network of 30 Goodnature A24 and 10 Goodnature A12 self-resetting traps to provide constant control of pests. Goodnature creates the world’s only pest traps that can self-reset up to 24 times for rats and 12 times for possums before needing to be reloaded. The traps are toxin-free, certifi ed A-class humane, while also reducing the labour needed in trap maintenance.
Since the introduction of their trap network, the Leongs have seen less foraging of and damage to their produce and trees by pests, and ultimately have more produce to sell on the commercial market. “We no longer see those rats’ eyes shining, which is really pleasing,” says Leny. Over a two-year period, the Goodnature A24 trap network has eradicated 700 rats, mice and hedgehogs, and 55 possums with the A12 traps.
Speaking on the trap network, Geoff said, “The number of kills was surprising as it was much higher than we anticipated. Adding the strike counter to each trap is great for keeping tabs on how many pests have been killed – usually carcasses are removed from the trap within 24 hours so we would never have known the size of the problem.” Having a diversifi ed orchard creates the challenge of food abundance all year round for rats and possums – avocados fruit from late spring through summer, walnuts drop in autumn and macadamias are harvested in winter. “Our Goodnature trap network enables us to have toxin-free, year-round constant control with easy monitoring. We were surprised by how the concentration of kills changed – this followed to some extent the ripening of the various crops. Because the number of rats differs due to our production, we can be responsive to changing levels because it’s so easy to reposition the traps,” Geoff says.
It takes Geoff and Leny only six hours a year to maintain the 30 A24 rat traps, which require attention every six months, and eight hours a year to maintain their 10 A12 possum traps which get visited monthly. All traps receive a new gas canister (the trap’s power source) and lure device every six months. Goodnature Sales and Key Account Manager Sean O’Brien says: “This project was worthwhile for us as we had not yet measured the power of a Goodnature trap network in a commercial site with high food competition over a long period of time. The Leongs’ data demonstrates that constant pest pressure requires constant control. They’ve protected their income and their assets while removing toxin use and therefore lowering the overall chemical inputs for production.”
ARTICLE SUPPLIED BY GOODNATURE