The Impact of Pests on the Agriculture Industry

Effective pest control for farms and agricultural premises is essential. Pest species are cause for major concern, not only due to the potential loss of revenue due to crop damage but, if left untreated, they can also cause significant damage to machinery, equipment and property as well. Pest species can include insects, birds and rodents.

Let’s consider some of the major problems with pests that concern those within the agricultural industry.

Crop Damage

Insects are a big threat. They are responsible for two major kinds of damage to growing crops. The first is direct injury to plants caused by insects eating leaves and burrowing holes in stems, fruit and/or roots. The second is indirect damage, where the insects themselves do little or no harm, but transmit bacterial, viral or fungal infection to a crop. Aphids are one of the main culprits in this regard, carrying diseases from plant to plant often uncontrollably as numbers multiply.

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And it’s not just insects that those in the agricultural industry have to contend with. Rats and mice are common pests which most farmers will have experience with – particularly during the main harvest seasons, when the rodents will often cause untold damage to crops as a result of food scavenging and gnawing. They will eat seeds, leaves, roots, whole young plants, fruit and grain – nothing is off the menu when it comes to rodents.

Birds too, are an issue – particularly pigeons. These birds can cause major problems to edible crops, with peas, beans, brassicas and fruit – including plums, cherries and currants – being most commonly attacked. They will attack crops in flocks all year around, although are a particular source of trouble during late spring and early summer when tender young leafy crops can be easily found.

Other problem pest bird species include geese, gulls, starlings, sparrows and members of the crow family (jackdaws, rooks, magpies and carrion crows), who will also attack livestock.

Effective and professional pest control action must be taken in all cases to keep infestations under constant control.

Damage to Finished Products

Pest species can also cause much harm to finished products that are getting ready for sale.

So-called stored product insects (SPIs) are a big problem in this regard. These creatures infest grain and commodities, causing damage to raw food materials and contaminating finished products. There are many different SPI species. The main culprits are moths and beetles and an infestation can leave products unfit for human consumption, resulting in loss of revenue and reputational damage among customers.

One species – the Khapra beetle – can be a particular nuisance (to put it lightly). This insect can be difficult to control due to the fact that it feeds on a variety of dried materials. It’s also resistant to insecticides and can go for long periods without food. Infestations of Khapra beetles can result in up to 70% grain damage, leaving the products inedible and unmarketable.

Although many SPI species are so small that they may be unnoticeable at first, there are a number of signs to look out for. These include visible damage to raw materials and foodstuffs, holes appearing in piles of grain (these are exit holes left by emerging weevils), insect tracks left in floury dust, webbing (produced by the larvae of warehouse moths and mill moths) and faecal pellets. Grain may also become inexplicably warmer if infected, which can lead to damp, mould and even grain germination. If any of these signs are spotted, pest control professionals must be called in immediately to prevent any further damage.

Rats and mice also pose great threats to finished products. They will infest barns and storage areas, happily gnawing through sacks and urinating everywhere and on everything. They are also carriers of disease and bacteria like salmonella and will leave a trail of contamination on every surface and foodstuff they come into contact with. An infestation, therefore, can have a serious negative impact on the economics of a farm – whole harvests can be consigned to refuse as health risks render the products unfit for sale and human consumption.

Once again, effective pest control precautions must be in place to prevent rodent infestations causing lasting damage to any stored products a farm holds.

Equipment and Machinery Damage

Rodents are the biggest problem. Rats and mice are known to cause huge damage to farm buildings and equipment. These animals have incisor teeth that continue to grow at a rate of about five inches a year throughout their whole lifespans and need to be worn down by gnawing. As such, both rats and mice will gnaw at wood, concrete, metals and even electrical wiring and cables, posing a fire hazard and causing untold and expensive damage to machinery, equipment and vehicles.

There can be a knock-on effect in terms of production. When rats and mice leave machines broken, not only do costs begin to mount up for repairs and replacements, but productivity can also be put on hold until the equipment is restored. This can have a serious impact on a business’ ability to generate revenue.

Safeguard Pest Control

The impact of pests on businesses in the agricultural industry are huge and their numbers must be controlled. At Safeguard Pest Control, we have specialist services for farming and agricultural businesses that are designed to ensure your crops, livestock, stored products, equipment, machinery, land and property are all protected against the persistent threats of pests.

We have over 30 years’ experience designing and executing bespoke pest control strategies for commercial clients. Contact us today to arrange a free site survey.

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