Scientists have discovered a sustainable way to keep mice away from farmers’ crops without harming the crops or even the mice themselves.
Mice can significantly affect farmers’ crops by consuming sown wheat seeds.
To counter this, scientists have adopted an environmentally friendly and more ethical approach compared to other conventional methods.
Using wheat germ oil to create an enticing aroma throughout entire fields can deter the rodents from feeding on the crops without the need for chemicals or mousetraps, according to an article in the journal New Atlas.
Typically, mice detect individual wheat seeds either before or during the germination process. Once the process is finished and the plants have grown, the rodents mostly lose interest in them.
Some people have suggested making the seeds less appealing, but this would involve chemically treating all the seeds, and there is the strong possibility the animals would develop a tolerance to them over time, making the process useless.
A team from the University of Sydney has instead come up with a better way of dealing with the problem, spraying entire wheat plots with a diluted mixture of wheat germ oil and water.
This resulted in the scent of germinating wheat seeds permeating the soil, stubble, and surrounding environment, which made it difficult for the mice to find the planted seeds, leading them to find and consume significantly fewer seeds.
“The camouflage appeared to last until after the seeds germinated, which is the period of vulnerability when wheat needs to be protected,” Ph.D student Finn Parker said. “Mice can’t evolve resistance to the method either because it uses the same odor that mice rely on to find wheat seeds.”
Researchers discovered that when wheat germ oil was sprayed on the plots during and after sowing, there were 63% fewer wheat seeds eaten by mice compared to the untreated plots.
If the wheat germ oil was applied before sowing, the number of uneaten seeds increased even more, reaching 74%.
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