Bunnies beware: Britain's significant rabbit problem could be eliminated simply by dusting slag on wheat fields, reports Tom Hopkinson in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.
In the UK alone, rabbits cause an estimated £115m worth of damage annually.
Researcher David Cowen and his team at Central Science Laboratory showed that applying slag to wheat growing in greenhouses had no effect on yield, but caused the plants to incorporate the silica and express it as spiky structures on their leaves. These spikes put rabbits off their feed, abrading their teeth and giving them stomach-ache (Pest Management Science DOI:10.1002/ps.1302).
Humans only eat the grain, so the repellent would only affect the vermin. But when the slag-treated plants were compared to normal plants, grazing damage fell by more than half.
Slag - or calcium silicate - a plentiful byproduct of blast furnaces, is dirt-cheap and environmentally friendly. What's more, it's already known to act as an effective fertilizer in rice paddies and sugar cane fields. And as it's not an active chemical, it could circumvent the convoluted pesticide regulatory approval pathway and be used straight away.
Chemistry & Industry
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About Chemistry & Industry
Chemistry & Industry magazine from SCI delivers news and comment from the interface between science and business. As well as covering industry and science, it focuses on developments that will be of significant commercial interest in five- to ten-years time. Published twice-monthly and free to SCI Members, it also carries authoritative features and reviews. Opinion-formers worldwide respect Chemistry & Industry for its independent insight.
About Pest Management Science
Pest Management Science (PMSci) is an international, peer-reviewed journal of research and technology on crop protection and pest control. Since its launch in 1970, the journal has become the premier forum for papers covering all aspects of research and development, application, use and impact on the environment of products designed for pest control and crop protection.
PMSci is an SCI journal, published by John Wiley & Sons, on behalf of the Society of Chemical Industry, and is available in print (ISSN: 1526-498X)
Online (ISSN: 1526-4998) via Wiley InterScience http://www.
SCI is a unique international forum where science meets business on independent, impartial ground. Anyone can join, and the Society offers a chance to share information between sectors as diverse as food and agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental science and safety. As well as publishing new research and running events, SCI has a growing database of member specialists who can give background information on a wide range of scientific issues. Originally established in 1881, SCI is a registered charity with members in over 70 countries.
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