Cropping

IPM knowledge sourced at canola growing workshop

By Rodney Woods

Practical workshops addressing early season canola pest management are helping to bolster industry’s uptake of integrated pest management principles and improve the effectiveness of control strategies.

A survey of participants who attended a series of workshops about pests in establishing canola crops found 99 per cent now use or intend to incorporate integrated pest management practices into their farming systems.

An investment of the Grains Research and Development Corporation — with assistance from FarmLink, Australian Oilseeds Federation, NSW DPI and Local Land Services — the workshops equipped participants with practical tips on identifying, monitoring and controlling early season pests to maximise crop establishment.

The workshops were held across southern, central and northern NSW in the lead-up to the 2019 canola season and were followed up with a mid-season paddock walk, a webinar conducted by sustainable agriculture research organisation cesar and a YouTube presentation.

The workshops and field walks attracted more than 340 advisers and growers, highlighting the extent of industry interest in alternatives to chemical-only control methods.

Lead presenter, Bowden Rural Services principal agronomist Phil Bowden, said the workshops had increased participants’ knowledge of pest identification and host range, awareness of beneficial invertebrate groups and confidence to implement cultural, chemical and biological control measures.

“The workshops were designed to deliver IPM knowledge in a practical way to assist growers and advisers to apply an effective pest monitoring and control approach in the paddock,” Mr Bowden said.

“For years we’ve been trying to move away from the practice of applying `insurance sprays’, whereby a pesticide is applied at the same time as a herbicide spray whether it’s required or not, because it destroys the natural enemies that are resident in paddocks.

“The workshops equipped participants with an awareness of which beneficial insects are present in paddocks, what their role is and what can be done to encourage them.

“Successful pest management in canola relies on accurate identification of both the pests and the beneficial insects, an understanding of their behaviour and roles, and a comprehension of the objective and likely impact of chemical control methods.”

Mr Bowden said the workshops encouraged participants to assess potential pest issues prior to planting by considering paddock history and the propensity of certain crops and stubble loads to encourage pest incidence, and then develop an appropriate multi-pronged management strategy.

“The aim is to have as few surprises as possible to maximise crop establishment and growth,” he said.

“Insect pests can be a significant issue in new canola crops.

“Canola has a tiny seedling which can be difficult to get out of the ground and so it becomes a target for a range of damaging pests such as mites, wireworms/false wireworms, slugs, cutworms and earwigs.

“We are now seeing crops targeted by pests that we’ve never seen before in canola, largely due to the increased stubble loads retained in modern farming systems.

“So it’s important that we adopt an IPM approach to ensure our control methods are effective, sustainable and maximise the productivity and profitability of our canola crops and broader farming systems.”

For more information, watch the new GRDC video Five easy methods for monitoring insects in early season canola at: https://bit.ly/2xpjTLv