Last month’s World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif. displayed some of the most innovative products and services the ag world had to offer, especially in the area of pest control.

Event organizers honored one of the exhibitors, Oregon-based Molecat with its “Top 10 New Products” designation. The Molecat Unit, with its “firing barrel” display is billed as a reusable, eco-friendly and chemical-free exterminator of several vermin such as moles, gophers, voles, rats and snakes. The device ends its pest via a bombastic, underground blast.

Other manufacturers and distributors were on hand, like Organic Solutions who featured the EmekaTech product, the Lord of the Flies Trap.

“The traps come in 1 or 2 gallons for residential and ranch. It is 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable. After the traps fill up with flies, you can put it in your compost garden and around your trees,” said Sue Gardner, who along with her husband Bud distributes the product. “I use it for my garden and my trees. They hold quite a lot of nitrogen. I have beautiful roses and fabulous oranges from doing this.”

Justin Qualls from Motomco

Longtime owners of a mushroom farm, Gardner and her husband struggled to find a chemical-free solution to exterminate the many flies that destroyed their batch. After trying the product made by a neurosurgeon her husband went to, they were sold.

“We composed daily, then this came along. No flies in about two and half weeks; five drops on five acres. It worked perfectly,” Gardner said. “My husband had hurt his back. When [the neurosurgeon] found out we were mushroom farmers, he wanted to see it. He noticed we had a fly problem. He said ‘I can get rid of it.’ He never had any intention of marketing it. It was something he did for himself and his neighbors. It was just in his good nature.”

Strong chemicals present challenges

As with many of the exhibitors, Wisconsin-based rodent control provider Motomco was enjoying heavy traffic at February’s expo. “The show has been going great,” said Justin Qualls, territory manager. “This is my first time at the show. We’ve seen people from all over the world.”

Motomco manufactures an extensive ag line of rodent control products that range from poultry and swine production to vermin control.

The Lord of the Flies Trap from Organic SolutionsPHOTO COURTESY: MICHAEL FREEZE 

“We do a lot of work with groundskeeper control, gophers, rats and mouse control,” Qualls said. “Some of our products have agents like anticoagulants which are blood thinners. They are also some with an acute acting rodenticide Bromethalin, the strongest active ingredient on the market.”

Qualls noted that attendees were most interested in the ZP AG pellets and oats used for orchards, potatoes and various rangelands. Once ingested by a rodent, the active ingredient zinc phosphide becomes phosphine gas, a nerve poison. The gas reacts violently to stomach acid.

“Rodents don’t have the ability to belch or apholate,” he said. “So pressure builds up and it dies within three to four hours after digestion. It’s one of the quickest on the market.”

Qualls, who lives in California, said that having such strong and potential lethal chemicals can pose challenges for many of its end users. In July 2014, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation brought forth restrictions against Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticide (SGAR).

MoleCat UnitCOURTESY OF MOLECAT 

“It has been a big issue. We are still trying to figure out how to meet the needs of our growers with following the new laws,” he said. “It’s been an adjustment because now only qualified applicators can apply to purchase those products. “

The SGAR ban includes active ingredients such as brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum and difethialone. Qualls said the year-old rule will continue to cause hassles for the end-user.

“A small grower, who has eight acres might not want to go to the county and get a permit,” Qualls noted. “But those that do have a permit, have to do a lot of paperwork. But it’s part of playing the game.”