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1995 - Volume #19, Issue #6, Page #34
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They Flood Gopher Infested Fields With Water

"I finally threw up my hands in disgust," says Gary Graves of High Desert Ranch near Denio, Nev. "The gophers were so thick that I couldn't take two steps without stepping on a mound. We were going through sickle sections on our swather like mad."
High Desert Ranch's newly acquired 3,000 acres of older hay ground needed to be reseeded, but Graves didn't want to waste alfalfa seed on the pocket gophers.
"During the first six months we were frantically trying to trap and poison them," Graves recalls. "But we weren't having much luck."
He had to find a way to not only control the gophers, but also to virtually eradicate them before he could begin reseeding. Re-calling that gophers come out of their bur-rows whenever fields are flood-irrigated, he decided to use the same approach to get them to the surface on his sprinkler-irrigated land.
He had a local supplier deliver a half mile of 8-in. dia. gated pipe. He attached two quarter-mile sections of the pipe to his main line, assigned two workers with shovels in hand to each section, and opened about 40 gates at a time. As the gophers emerged from their flooded burrows, they were quickly killed.
Because the flooding was done in the months of November and February, the gophers emerged into colder weather and al-most died of hypothermia before the shovels even arrived on the scene.
After a 60-ft. wide swath was flooded and the rodents eliminated, the pipe was moved by hand to the adjacent 60 ft. It took two to three hours to control the gophers along each quarter-mile-long swath and 10 to 15 minutes to move the pipe each time.
"In six weeks last winter, we cleaned up 320 acres and took off 14,000 gophers," Graves reports. "Last spring we did another 320 acres and took off 10,000 gophers."
A few gophers escaped, but he figures he got 95% control.
Another advantage was the increased hay yield provided by the extra water. "By getting that extra water in the ground last fall and this spring, we had a tremendous first cutting of hay. The extra hay more than paid for the pumping costs," says Graves.
The pumping rate was 1,500 gal. per min. "You have to get a lot of water in the bur-rows and you have to get it in fast," he says.
Graves says he plans to use the procedure again on two more badly infested 320-acre parcels this fall and next spring. He hopes to eventually find a way to suspend gated pipe from a center pivot irrigation system so that he can flood out gophers as the pivot moves around the field.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Alan Greenway, Caldwell, Idaho 83605 (ph 208 454-8342).
Reprinted with permission from Hay & Forage Grower
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1995 - Volume #19, Issue #6