(Tetum) Can rubber band straps help make storage drums airtight, thus killing weevils?

That’s the question MAF-SoL researchers sought to answer last month, when they launched a simple experiment to compare weevil survival after two 80-litre storage drums were sealed for 31 days.

One drum was sealed with rubber band straps over the large lid; the other was sealed with just the lid.

‚ÄúIt was amazing,‚ÄĚ says MAF-SoL Researcher Maria Martins, ‚Äúwhen we opened the drum that had been sealed with the straps made from rubber tube all the weevils were dead.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe straps made the drums completely airtight, causing the weevils to die from a lack of oxygen,‚ÄĚ she said.

Watch the video below to see the researchers re-opening the drums after a month and to learn how to seal a drum with rubber band straps 

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Galvanise flat metal sheet drums for weevil testes. One with rubber bands strap and the other one not. © Yessy Betty / Seeds of Life

MAF-SoL Researcher  Leo Mauleto explains how it the experiment worked.

‚ÄúWe took two 80-litre storage drums that are produced and used on Atauro Island, and filled them with weevil-infested corn‚ÄĚ.

“One drum was sealed with one 50 mm and two 10 mm rubber band straps around the lid and the other drum had no strap.

‚ÄúThe drums were then left for one month from 14 March to 14 April 2014,‚ÄĚ she said.

The results highlight the importance of airtight storage.

‚ÄúThe drum without the rubber strap was infested with living and active weevils. Air was still getting in, allowing the weevils to multiply and eat more of the grain,‚ÄĚ a researcher, Antonio Pereira do Rego said.

‚ÄúWhereas the rubber straps made the drums airtight, cutting off the weevils‚Äô oxygen supply.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúIt was amazing,‚ÄĚ says MAF-SoL Researcher Maria Martins, ‚Äúwhen we opened the drum that had been sealed with the straps made from rubber tube all the weevils were dead.‚ÄĚ

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Silo with no rubber band strap infested with living and active weevils. © Yessy Betty / Seeds of Life

The average Timorese farming family loses between 25 and 30% of their post-harvest crop due to damage by weevils and rats..

Storage drums are just one way farmers can securely store their grain, but to reduce post-harvest losses they MUST  be airtight according to Cropping Systems Advisor Samuel Bacon.

‚ÄúThis technique can be adapted to similar types of silos, so long as it makes them completely airtight,‚ÄĚ he said.

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a really simple method that anyone can use ‚Äď they just need to cut some long ¬†rubber straps from old motorbike or car tubes,‚ÄĚ he said.

The two drums used in the experiment were made on Atauro Island from galvanised flat metal sheets by Gruppo Trentino di Volontariato (GTV Italy) and Roman Luan, a local NGO who are supported by the Autonomous Province of Trento Italy and  FAO.