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Plant Protectors Might Be a BAD Idea!  RSS feed

 
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I am considering using plant protectors for a large-scale food forest project in the jungle, because I don't want small rodents killing the young saplings.

One concern I had was that plant protectors might be a bad idea in a tropical environment due to elevating already high humidity and causing fungal infections. Also, putting too much heat stress on the plants.

This study from Peru (albeit this region is higher elevation i.e. cooler and also drier) shows that trees that had plastic plant protector tubes will kill at least 50% of the saplings, whereas the control group using no protectors caused 10% death rate.

revistas.lamolina.edu.pe/index.php/rfp/article/download/1033/pdf_9

This was a rather small sample size, so I'm wondering if anyone knows of other studies about this topic. Using thousands of plastic plant protectors can cost thousands of dollars and basically becomes garbage after a couple years.
 
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Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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If there's some air circulation provided, the environment of the sapling s/b about the same regardless. The local municipality is using heavy tarp (probably plastic) tee-pees about 30" high around all the saplings it's planting the last year. Slightly open at the top. Maybe a couple thousand around here now. I guess the jury's out for a year or so.

_Everything_ has a life cycle. Physical controls (like the plant protector) usually have the least environmental impact compared to chemical or biological interventions. Just need to find a material that either gets reused indefinitely for the original purpose or gracefully transitions to some benign usage when it reaches EndOfLife. The downside of  physical techniques, from what I've found, is they require some knowledge and care to implement properly. Not any advanced degrees or even high school - just the ability to follow instructions and maintain details correctly. Not all of us do that very well...


Rufus
 
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Could you use some sort of small screen material instead of plastic? 

This would allow air circulation while keeping the animals away from the base of the plant.

I have put old screens around plants in the past in an attempt to keep pests away -- but in my case they just burrowed underground.

My solution was to create snake habitats and invite a local herpetologist to drop off any nonvenomous snakes that needed a new home.

This seemed to bring my rodent problem to a screeching halt. 
 
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Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Jeanine Gurley Jacildone wrote:Could you use some sort of small screen material instead of plastic?


That's exactly what we did for our Korean Pines. We used wire mesh, dug it into the ground a bit and then covered the mesh with burlap. So far so good!

I've heard of people mulching with gravel to protect against voles and other rodents, but I can't speak to the practicality or the effectiveness of that method.
 
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As you mention using plant protectors is a costly affair when talking about using thousands of them.

Jeanine Brought up the most permaculture idea and method, which is to invite natural predators to the area, let them take care of the rodents for you.
This also is a large step in getting the area back to the proper ecosystem, once the rodent population is under control, the excess predators will go else where for hunting,
If you are planting thousands of trees, some will die naturally anyway, so instead of wasting money on an item that will require extra time both to install and then again to remove, why not use those funds for even more trees.

As long as you are providing the right conditions for prey, the predators will come, all they need is an environment that allows them easy hunting. Mulching with leaves, like a natural forest floor has, and a water source nearby, is probably all the environment snakes need to thrive.

Redhawk
 
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