Multi-pronged approach the best mix for pest management
13 November 2018
The unlikely coupling of a chemical company with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) workshop actually makes a lot of sense, says Dr Paul Horne of IPM Technologies.
Leading Australasian entomologists Paul and his colleague Angelica Cameron recently conducted a series of IPM workshops in Mildura earlier this year, hosted by global chemical company FMC Corporation.
The workshops were attended by a mix of growers and agronomists, all of whom left with the draft foundations of a personalised IPM strategy.
“Initially there is a perception that the most effective pest control is a heavy pesticide-based approach, so we demonstrate that farmers are able to deal with pests with a fraction of the amount of insecticides, reducing the cost and minimising the risk of pesticide resistance,” Paul said.
“Companies like FMC are embracing IPM because they want their product to continue to do its job, and they see IPM as the best way to achieve that.”
‘Integrated’ is the word
IPM involves integrating three key approaches: cultural, biological and chemical.
Cultural control options relate to how the crop is managed. These may include measures such as removing weeds that may harbour pests, establishing plants that create a habitat for beneficial species of insects or mites, or longer-term controls such as the selection of crop and rootstock varieties.
“There are two types of cultural controls: those that make life worse for the pest and those that make it better for beneficials,” Paul said.
“To encourage beneficials, the management of the inter-row is also important: Is it bare ground? Is there a cover crop? Can it be watered to eliminate dust?”
“Beneficial species, such as predators or parasites of the pests, in an IPM program are the key in a lot of cases to actually getting good pest control,” Paul said. “When we monitor crops for insects we don’t just look at the pest levels, we look at beneficial species levels and try to assess if there are enough there to get good control. If not, then what insecticides or miticides could we use that are going to have the least effect on the beneficials, not just maximum effect on the pest.”
Paul said that if a grower doesn’t have any beneficials left or if they are seriously negatively affected after a pesticide application, then the pest is actually better off because there are no ‘natural’ controls in place, meaning pest outbreaks are more likely to occur.
“Either the pesticide works, and it works well, or it can be devastatingly disruptive and lead to pest ‘flares’ or outbreaks of the pest because the beneficials are killed,” Paul said.
The aim of IPM is not to eliminate chemical control, but to ensure that it is used sparingly, and in a targeted fashion.
“If we can take out the disruptive chemicals and leave in the ones that are compatible with beneficials, then the system itself becomes more self-sustaining and there’s less pressure on the chemicals that have an IPM fit,” Paul said. “Ideally we want to limit usage to selective products.”
The use of selective chemicals also has export market advantages.
“Some groups of insecticides are legal here in Australia but if growers want to export, it’s quite possible that the receiving country won’t allow those chemicals to be used,” he said.
IPM is industry’s friend
There is a range of tools available to help citrus growers with the uptake of an IPM approach. Fact sheets and articles about citrus pests can be found on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au, as well as in the Citrus plant protection and management guide 2017 also available on the same website.
Additional information was sourced from Smarter control of orchard pests (Australian Fruitgrower, Aug/Sep 2017).
Paul Horne, IPM Technologies, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0419 891 575 or visit ipmtechnologies.com.au