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A Green Way To Slag Off Bunnies

Date:
December 18, 2006
Source:
Society of Chemical Industry
Summary:
Using slag on wheat plants deters rabbits from eating, and consequently damaging the plant. Calcium silicate gives the leaves a bitter taste, putting the bunnies off their food. Studies show that this method can reduce crop damage by around half. In the UK alone, rabbits cause an estimated £115M worth of damage annually.
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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.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Society of Chemical Industry. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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Society of Chemical Industry. "A Green Way To Slag Off Bunnies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061218081458.htm>.
Society of Chemical Industry. (2006, December 18). A Green Way To Slag Off Bunnies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 22, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061218081458.htm
Society of Chemical Industry. "A Green Way To Slag Off Bunnies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061218081458.htm (accessed May 22, 2015).

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