20 June 1997

Rabbit control

undervalued

RESULTS from research into the financial implication of rabbit damage in crops suggests farmers could spend far more on controlling the pest.

"Current evidence suggests a 2% annual increase in the UK rabbit population, so farmers really do need to know what damage is costing so they can identify how much they should spend on control," explains Gordon McKillop of CSL, York.

Work carried out at CSL has ascertained the damage caused by each rabbit, applied a figure to that yield loss and subsequently established a damage value on a per capita basis.

"In a 6.5t/ha crop of winter wheat, a yield loss of 1% was detected for each rabbit present, equating to a damage valuation of £7.50 a rabbit," says Mr McKillop. "Armed with this information a farmer now knows that if he has a rabbit population of, say 40 rabbits/ha, he can justifiably spend up to £375/ha on control in affected areas."

CSL is continuing the research in both spring barley and grassland crops.