Tag Archives: Food safety

Reducing Rodent Damage on your Farm

As the harvest season progresses and the air cools, rodents start thinking about stocking up for winter and finding a home. Across the US, rodents cause up to 1 billion dollars in damage a year. Don’t let that be you.

Lets start by getting our crops in without damage in the field.

Our number one recommendation is to clean up your fields. When we see issues it is usually because of piles of weeds, debris, and trash on field edges. This extends into the field- keep your crop clean. If rodents have no place to hide, the local raptor population will have a field day. Best of all, they don’t require health insurance or a 401k!

Plastic and ground cloth, while they keep weeds down and warm the soil slightly, do provide a home for these furry creatures. Think long and hard if it is worth the damage.

Agrid3 is a great Certified Organic bait. We put it in little bait boxes in the field for crops that tend to get hit (sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, winter squash) usually around August 1st. We will flag each location for as the crops tend to grow, the boxes tend to disappear until you hit them with a machine! We used to just use small wooden boxes but Eliot showed us how he has gone to using small tackle boxes with holes cut in each end.  8-12 boxes per acre work great. 

Eliot Coleman's tackle box turned into a rodent bait station.

Eliot Coleman’s tackle box turned into a rodent bait station.

Mousetraps in the above boxes or just a piece of 4” drainage pipe work great as well in the field but have to constantly be checked. 

I do show some pictures in my ebook here which show a few ideas… http://michael-kilpatrick.com/ebook-10-winter-growing-secrets-we-wish-we-knew-when-we-started/

Also, if you type voles into the search box of the Four Season Farming and Winter Growing Facebook page  a bunch of good info comes up.  

Once they are in Storage…

Again, clean around your building and provide no habitat for the little critters. Old plywood, piles of pallets, junk equipment, all provide great refuge from predators and warm winter homes. 

Remove other sources of food. Keep compost piles, grain storage or straw storage away from where you are trying to store food. A scorched earth policy.

Well-lit, cement floored, clean storage areas are always a good idea. Gives you instant knowledge if you have been breached! Dirt-floored, cluttered, dimly lit storage areas are just asking for trouble. 

We do not recommend bait boxes in storage. Too easy for a animal to eat the bait and then die somewhere in your carrots, causing all sorts of food safety issues. I would take the tackle box and put snap traps in them, making sure to check them every other day. 

And,  get a good dog. Most cats try to have too much fun with their food to be of much use. 

Pennsylvania Conference Recap

I was recently in PA for an all day conference on winter growing, season extension, wholesale, and food safety. I presented three times and we also heard from Cathie, a local grower and a Bill, representative from Wegmans supermarket who was talking about the great oportunities for growers of all sizes to sell to the wegmans family of stores.

My first talk was a standard winter growing and greens production.

Second talk was on Field systems and season extension. I have fun doing this talk as I get to discuss equipment, and show beautiful pictures of vegetables.

The last talk for the day was on Farm Planning, Wholesale markets, Food safety, and washing and packing. This was a lot of new material for me, and is the talk which took the most work. It went very well though.

There was signifigant interest in our annual bed strawberry system. Here’s the link to the slideshow that I have done on this.

Another question was the source of our supplies. Here’s the link to our resources page.


A grower also had a question on the bags that we use for our wholesale lettuce mix. They are from Uline, link here.

If you are a grower near a Wegmans, and they have stores in Western NY, PA, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the Carolinas, you should look into sales oportunites through them. They are a very farm friendly company, and have employees whose sole job is to travel seek out new farms to sell to them. Definately worth a call or email.

Many thanks to Beth at the Blair Conservation District for organizing this event!