Possum/Bird Netting

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Letsgokate, May 30, 2018.

  1. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Continuing on with our discussion on native bees being used in a green house effect and possibly having a T junction as suggested by @stevo I messaged Sugarbag Bees on facebook about having native bees in a greenhouse type of setup. Below is their response that I thought other’s might be interested in. Nearly worth a new post for all the bee discussions.

    “Hi Kate, You can keep the hives in the greenhouse so they are confined there. Or you can add a T piece to the entrance of the hive. Insert a tube to one side of the T piece that perforates the wall so that the bees can forage inside the green house or outside on the environment. You can use this to encourage them to forage where you want. E.g. you can close the end that leads to the outside if the bees are not discovering the flowers inside. You can open it again if there are not many flowers available inside.

    You may find that when you first introduce the hive, some of the older foragers will not accept the space and try to escape. But as these bees are replaced by younger ones (this process is continuous, it starts immediately and is complete in about 3 weeks) they will accept the space and forage more effectively.”

    So it sounds like I could do something with the bees and I like the suggestions made.
     
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  2. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    You could also have a chat to Toby from Bee Aware, he does a bit of commercial work with Native Bees and greenhouses. He might have some suggestions on types of plants for the greenhouse, meaning, besides the crops you want to have, you could put some extra plants in there to help encourage the bees.
     
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  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Geeps I just spent a good 10 mins reading this discussion from top to bottom - very interesting!

    Solving one problem and stumbling onto another but that's one of the reasons backyard food growing is so gripping (how can anyone think this is boring lol).

    A fully enclosed fruit tree area to keep out possums and fruit fly is certainly ambitious - no way possible on our property - but in a smaller food growing backyard it makes good sense even if challenging to do from a practical and/or monetary perspective. Totally worth it if it can be done.

    What do they use to keep fruit fly out?
     
  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I always remember a Greek family who lived on Chermside Road at Lutwyche just a few blocks from Lutwyche Shopping Centre in Brisbane when I was there between 1978-1990.
    They had an old Queenslander workers cottage house that was set reasonably close to the street as they were when those houses were built around turn of the century (1900's).
    The front yard was about 9ft wide with the front gate in the center of the front fence.
    They had made a square shaped cyclone mesh & gal pipe cage that covered the whole yard except for the walkway from the front gate to the steps. It was a bit higher than roof gutter height, so around 3m high.
    Inside that cage they grew fig trees! Obviously the birds, possums, bats, flammin' whatever must have given them so much grief they called in the big guns to put up a critter proof enclosure.
    Of course he probably worked for some company that made or sold that material too, such as Cyclone who had a manufacturing plant at Eagle Farm.
    That's what Greeks & Italians did in those days. It was easy to tell who they worked for by the fittings around their houses! :D
    Need I state that the yard was concreted as well? lol
     
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  5. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I assume a fruit fly net like veggie net only a lot bigger. Netprocanopies http://www.netprocanopies.com/ sell to all sorts of large commercial orchards.

    I have been talking to netpro and they said there is no net that will keep everything out. They suggested to focus on the main pest first. So in our case the possums. Whatever will keep out possums will also keep out the birds and flying foxes. I will then just bag or cover fruit/trees in fruit fly net when they are fruiting and see how that goes.

    I came across a PDF by the Qld government called “To net or not to net” http://www.otcobirdnet.com.au/Orchard-Netting-Report.pdf it’s report is based on commercial growers not backyard growers but the info is still interesting and I think relevant.

    It talks about the size of the net hole needed to keep out certain pests, and the effects on crops that were netted and changes to the microclimate. Below is some info from it.

    Flying foxes and orchard netting

    All flying fox species are relatively large animals but are capable, when their wings are folded, of squeezing through small apertures. Cases of flying foxes crawling through 50 mm mesh netting have been reported. Use nets with a mesh size no larger than 40 mm for orchard exclusion netting.

    Birds

    Many bird species eat orchard fruit and damage by birds can exceed damage by flying foxes. When suitable netting is used, the control of birds is a significant benefit of exclusion netting. A net with a 40 mm mesh size will exclude larger birds (such as lorikeets, parrots, rosellas crows, currawongs and ducks), but smaller species (such as silver-eyes) will only be excluded by nets with a mesh size of 20 mm or less.

    Fruitpiercing moth

    There are three different species of fruitpiercing moth—Othreis fullonia, Othreis maternal and Eudocima salaminia—and all three are large, stout-bodied and colourful (Figure 7). The forewings are mainly brown, green or cream. The hindwings are yellow and black. Adult fruitpiercing moths can have a wingspan of 100 mm; however, when their wings are folded they can squeeze through holes 10 mm in diameter.

    Fruit fly

    Fruit fly exclusion netting has been tested in a low-chill stone fruit orchard and complete exclusion was achieved using a 2 mm mesh net.

    Fruitspotting bug

    A 12 mm quad net with 5 mm mesh successfully excluded fruitspotting bug in the macadamia nutborer exclusion trial carried out on lychees

    Changes to microclimate

    Permanent canopy netting changes the microclimate and environment under the net. Changes to the orchard microclimate will be significantly greater where nets with small mesh sizes (such as a 12 mm quad hail net) are used than where nets with large mesh sizes (such as a 37 mm or 20 mm mesh flying fox exclusion net) are used. Net colour also influences the changes that occur.

    Two research projects have provided some data on the effect of orchard netting on the environment under the net.

    Project 1—Research on hail-netted apple orchards in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria (Middleton & McWaters 1996, 2000) studied the changes to the under-net microclimate. It was found that:

    • Light levels, assessed by measuring photosynthetically active radiation, were reduced by 20–27% under black net, 18% under grey net and by 12–15% under white net.

    • Humidity was consistently increased by up to 10%. After rainfall the humidity under the net remains high and takes longer to fall than under non-netted trees.

    • Hail net had a minimal effect on air, grass or soil temperature. On warm to hot days air temperatures under the net, measured in a Stevenson screen, were reduced by 1 °C to 3 °C when compared to recordings in a Stevenson screen outside the net. The Stevenson screen excludes radiation and restricts wind, permitting a ‘true’ measure of air temperature. The temperature under black hail net may ‘feel’ cooler because light levels are reduced. The temperature under white net may ‘feel’ higher on hot days because of reflected light off the net.

    • Wind speed is reduced by up to 50% within the netting.

    • Hail net has little effect on night time temperatures and does not offer frost protection.

    Netting didn’t seem to negatively effect the size, quality or quantity of the fruit.

    If I used a shade cloth as the netting it would be 30% shading but in white is 16-20% shading which is not much higher than using the other sorts of nets listed in this report. Reason I’m considering shade cloth is it’s stronger to keep out the possums and will also keep out some of the bigger pests. It’s also more affordable than some other netting, has 10yrs prorata UV guarantee which is higher than other forms of netting. This would be over some structure like the reinforcing mesh as the structure. I’ve had birds peck through fruit fly netted bags and get to the fruit.
     
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  6. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Fantastic info there from DPI, Letsgo.
    Thanks for posting it for us.
    I stopped using bird netting over my lychee tree because it kept the humidity too high & the tree got various diseases. This was despite the net only coming 2/3 the way down the tree & the frame kept it mostly off the branches so there should have been good air flow.
    The netting was 20ml white knitted bird net. Very light weight & cost very little.
    So I don't get even a single fruit because the king parrots eats the fruit while they are still about 2cm long & very green so none gets to full size.
    I like this bird net because it stretches to 5m wide which suits my tree covers.
    Its that netting that I will use if I net the whole of my orchard.
    The frames need only be quite light weight which suits my capacity these days. Easy to put up.
    Easy also, to pull the netting across the support wires.
     
  7. AndrewB

    AndrewB Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Yes, great info there. Nets increasing humidity is not something I would have considered.
     
  8. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Yes you wouldn’t think something like bird netting would increase humity.

    I was also amazed that flying foxes could get through a mesh size of 50mm.

    We get lots of miners that pinch mulberries, berries etc, so to keep them out I would have to go maximum of 20mm mesh size. It’s amazing how small a hungry animal can get through.

    In earlier posts, chicken wire and chain link wire were mentioned, the size of the holes of these is too big, it would have to be like avairy mesh sizing. So posting this topic and digging up information has brought up a lot of information, pros and cons. Working through what type and size of mesh would suit our purpose and what are the consequences or benefits and working through those. Such a great forum :)

    We cut down 7 palms trees in our front garden near our house yesterday that was shading the solar on our roof in winter. The other plus is possums would also go in the palms so a few less trees for possums :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
  9. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    We will be measuring up the size of the enclosed area on the weekend and hubby will start sketching out some plans based on different material and then costings.

    We have cut down 9 palms from around the house, so less places for the possums but the big gum still remains and in winter shades the solar on the roof until after 10am. Nothing we can do about that one, way too big.
     
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  10. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    I have Possums too, they walk down the powerline and run across my roof about 8pm each nigh, then sometimes have races on my roof. I'm sure they're going to wreck something.
     
  11. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    They can be very noisey can’t they Stevo. I like possums just wish they would keep to their own trees :) When we came here there was lots of trees and palms right up to the house. We had snakes on the roof, and under the patio. We had a possum down the chimney twice until my hubby blocked the chimney up. We have cut down all trees and palms close to the house.

    We have seen possums walking along the phone line. Fortunately our power and phone line goes under ground from a power pole in the front yard so they can’t walk across that to the roof.

    Possums seem to be everywhere these days.
     
  12. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Wonder why they find roof running such great sport? We used to have that problem here until we removed the golden cane that acted as a ladder to the roof. Still hear the odd one occasionally but not problematic anymore.

    Just one further possible problem to consider Letsgo in keeping bees in the orchard...and I think this was an article about honey bees not natives, so it may not be an issue. When using bees in mono cultured orchards - like avocados, the bees apparently much prefer alternative flowers, so if given easy exit to "greener pastures" will ignore the avos, and find preferable stuff. (Again I think this was a DPI or NSW Govt resource) they recommended placing hives centrally so the bees are more likely to make the most of what's around them before heading off longer distances. May be less of a problem if you've got more of a "food forest"... Like I say, not sure this is the case with natives, but could be a problem if the hive has really easy access to outside environment.
    I'm also a little surprised that mesh colour doesn't seem to affect humidity - I'll be using that little nugget when debating the other half!!
     
  13. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Letego, did you mulch the palm logs?
    They make excellent mulch that is both very moisture retaining & more enriching for the soil.
    Throwing on a bit of nitrogen to the pile as the logs are being chipped will create a quick, powerful & very hot compost.
    Could use blood & bone, chicken fertilizer pellets or just simple urea.

    I recently got a full load of mulched up coconut & pandanus palms for free & am using it to mulch my roundabout flower garden which is around 150m long around the perimeter x up to 4m wide in parts. So it uses a lot of mulch, especially when put on 15-20cm thick.

    But it is doing the trick. The soil is staying a lot more moist underneath than that soil ever did when I used either sugar cane or lucerne mulch. That thickness of palm mulch creates its own eco system & stays moist. The fibres of the top sort of glue themselves together as they weather so it goes fairly hard while under it is soft & moist. I do still water it most days as that is necessary in this soil but nowhere near as often as I did last year when using cane mulch.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
  14. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    No we didn’t mulch them, we don’t have the space to leave a heap of garden waste like palms. But we took them to the green waste at the tip where they mulch them for us and we picked up a load of free mulch :)

    We have been taking several loads to the tip each weekend for a while and when available we are getting the free tip mulch. They load it for $5 or you can load it yourself. We loaded one lot ourselves and decided the $5 for them to load it was well spent. We have been putting around big areas ourselves to reduce the weeds etc. It sure stinks though, we wear face masks and have to pick out some of the rubbish. After a week or so the smell goes away.

    Mulch certainly improves the soil, we still have lots more places to do.
     
  15. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Getting back on track with our orchard covered area. We measured our space and it will be 19.2m x 6m x 4m high in the middle. Hubby is starting to work out the building side of it, then I’ll make a final decision on what it will be covered it.

    You bring up some interesting points @OskarDoLittle there should be room for me to plant some natives in pots to provide a few more flowers for the bees, so they are happy to stay in there. Position of where the bees will sit still to be worked out. I was thinking on one end with access to the outside but putting them in the middle on the fence wall so they can have access outside and be more central in the enclosure could be better. They would only need to go inside if I used the shadecloth option as listed above.
     

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