Getting the good bug versus bad bug balance in crops

Insect trapping technology that provides cropping farmers with remote and real-time data of crop pests is being tested in southern Yorke Peninsula.

Awarded a $10,000 Community Action Grant by the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board, Consultant Dr Michael Nash is using the funds to trial DTN Smart Traps and three other insect sampling methods to help cropping farmers reduce their reliance on pesticides.

Working with mixed species growers near Warooka and Curramulka, Dr Nash will test the DTN Smart Traps, which have on-board cameras to detect, count and report on pests, as a tool for integrated pest management (IPM).

The idea is that the traps will help farmers make more informed decisions about pest management, giving them the option to make the most of beneficial insects and reduce pesticide use.

The project is focussed on tracking pests in pulse crops like faba beans, canola and lentils, where insect damage is not tolerated by overseas consumers, according to Dr Nash.

“Pulse standards are tight,” he said. “Last year faba beans had to be sold as feed grade due to insect damage, because farmers didn’t identify a pest problem in a timely manner. It cost one grower $60 per tonne.

“If we’re going to move forward with IPM and meet consumer demands for blemish-free pulses, then growers need tools that give them the confidence to apply crop protectants only when needed.”

Dr Nash has already installed one DTN Smart Trap at a farm south of Warooka and has plans to trial the technology at Curramulka and near Balaklava. He will also test the Delta trap, which like the Smart Trap, uses pheromones to attract male insects, as well as sweep netting and beat sheet sampling.

“All of these methods are trying to make it easier for farmers to decide whether they need to control grubs that are going to damage their pulses,” said Dr Nash.

He has also chosen to perform the trials in mixed-species crops, to test whether there is less threat to pulses where more than one crop species is grown.

This project is one of five awarded a Community Action Grant by the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board in July, with total grant funding adding up to nearly $50,000 for agricultural and horticultural projects in the region.

AgByte, Ag Excellence Alliance, Barossa Grape and Wine Association and the YP Alkaline Soils Group were also successful in applying for funding for projects ranging from testing weed species control in multi-species pastures to enhancing weather stations as a tool for reducing off-target chemical impact.

The Northern and Yorke Landscape Board works alongside community members and stakeholders to sustainably manage the region’s landscapes and environment. For more information about funding opportunities, please contact our Clare office on (08) 8841 3400.


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