Two experiments were conducted, first was to estimate maize seedling damage in farmers’ fields and a simulation experiment. This study aim to investigate the impact of rodent pest species, damage to maize crop in semi-arid areas at pre-harvest, with a view to provide farmers with appropriate information on rodent pest management interventions. In farmers’ fields, damage assessment was done by counting the number of damaged or removed seedlings at each planting hole while yield loss was determined from simulation experiment at five damage levels, viz; 0, 10, 25, 50, and 75% by removing seedlings per plot. Variation of damaged maize seedlings was compared between soil type and fields. The fields with black clay soils had higher damage of maize seedling (mean = 59.201±1.714) as compared to sandy loam soils (means = 49.742±1.714). The damage ranged from 30.17 to 71.91% in different fields. However, no effect was observed between interactions of maize fields and soil types. Results from simulation experiment showed no significant difference (p = 0.2357) among maize damage levels, although relatively higher yield losses were observed at 75%, while lowest yield losses in the control (0%). The increased seedling damage has an impact on final harvest; therefore, ecologically-based rodent management strategies appear to be good solution for reducing crop damage and should be encouraged to improve food security for smallholder farmers.
Key words: Damage, habitats, M. natalensis, rodent pest, semi-arid.
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