ECHOcommunity Conversations

Are Food Forest Pests a problem?

Our congregation has been planning a food Forest. Recently someone expressed a concern about fruit trees attracting rats. How much of a risk is this in exiting food Forest plantings? What , if needed, is done to prevent an infestation or to treat sustainably if one occurs.

Here is a good article from the University of Florida – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/UW120

Thank you; we do already have this manual, but are wondering specifically about fruit trees in food forests, and since ECHO has several areas of them, is there a specific problem with rats there and if so, how are they managed?

My friend and I’ve started a food forest in southern Thailand. We’re surrounded by jungle, a palm oil farm, and rubber tree farms.
We don’t have any fruiting trees yet, but we have had some mulberries fruiting. We do notice fruits going away, and suppose it’s birds taking them.
There’s a cottage on the property, where nobody stays over night regularly. This cottage is the only place we’ve noticed rats. We set out a rat trap, got one, and released it a couple of hundred meters away, and since then, no rats either. Seemed like the rat was more interested in the nice shelter of the cottage than of eating anything on the property.
Used to be that monkeys were a problem. They ate unripe bananas still on the plants, banana flowers on the plants, and ripped the tops off of papaya plants when the plants were still only about a meter or so tall! But since a neighbor installed a sound system that has recorded sounds of lions and some really agitating sounds like machine gun fire, we’ve hardly seen or heard a monkey! They play this recording most of the day and most of the night, when they’re not on their property. Seemed like a long shot to me, but I can say that we haven’t had monkey problems since then. I keep wondering if there’s some other reason the monkeys don’t come around anymore because just those sounds couldn’t keep monkeys away for very long, could they?! Wouldn’t monkeys get used to the sounds, realize there’s no danger, and continue to come and take what they can get?
Sorry to go on so long about monkeys, when you asked about rats. But we’ve only had 1 rat, while the monkeys used to be a big headache.
:smiley:

We have planted a food forest here in Central Tanzania. We’re not at the stage yet where we have a lot of fruits, but my idea is that you build an ecosystem. Rats will be part of it, as will be their predators. So you might get pests a little bit in the beginning, but things will balance out after a while.

Keep Chickens and dogs, and if you can get some cats that you can train to some degree (mostly to not go after birds), then you will not have as much of a rat problem.

The dropped and overripe fruit need to be removed, either by human and put into compost, or by animals who graze and eat them.

If you cycle your animals through your food forest system appropriately, you will have less of a rat problem, and can even eliminate the conditions that attract them.

Here is information from our ECHO farm manager: “I don’t think we have had “issues” with rats in the food forests, although they have been present as part of a healthy ecosystem. We will sometimes see gnaw marks on banana societies (bunches) or other fruit, but that is normal”

never had a problem with rats under fruit trees - not to say there’s no rats, but they are in balance with other predators: birds, snakes