RABBITS and hares are less of a problem on Australia’s agricultural land according to managers survey in the latest ABARES Pest Animal and Weed Management Survey results released today.
The largest decrease in pest problems between surveys in 2016 and 2019 was in the proportion of land managers reporting major or minor problems with rabbits/hares and this was down 6.9 percentage points.
However, more than half of agricultural land managers in Australia are still reporting native animals and birds, rabbits/hares, rodents and foxes have caused either minor or major problems on their properties in the 12 months prior to the 2019 pest animal survey, as was the case in 2016.
The ABARES Pest Animal and Weed Management Survey 2016-2019 also found that the proportion of managers reporting a major overall feral animal problem on their property had not changed significantly between surveys – 21 percent in 2016 and 20pc 2019.
There was a statistically significant decrease by 13 percentage points in those reporting a minor feral animal problem between surveys.
However the latest ABARES report confirms that Australia’s farmers are spending significant amounts of time and money on battling pests and weeds.
ABARES acting executive director, Dr Jared Greenville, said the survey results demonstrated that land management in Australia was an ongoing job.
“We surveyed 6470 farmers in 2016, and 8059 in 2019 and they responded from across Australia.
“The biggest change we saw was a 41 percent increase between 2016 and 2019 in farmers reporting crop loss, degradation or loss of value from pests, particularly insects,” he said.
“The impact of pest animals, particularly invertebrates, has increased between surveys, even considering the vastly different weather patterns between 2016 and 2019.
“However, the proportion of land managers reporting expenditure on managing pests and weeds went down between 2016 and 2019, and the average amount farmers spent on pest and weed management nearly halved from $20,405 in 2016 to $11,576 in 2019,” Dr Greenville said.
“This is mostly accounted for by the change in average weed expenditure which dropped from $18,633 in 2016 to $10,551 in 2019. Widespread drought in 2019 is likely to be a factor in the reduced spend on weed management.
“We do have to take into account the fact that 2016 had substantially high rainfall, while 2019 was a drought year. These factors affect the impact, numbers and distribution of pest animals and weeds.”