BCG IPM project involves farmers, agronomists and local schools 

BCG’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) project members recently met at BCG to work through their IPM strategies with leading Australian entomologists Dr Paul Horne and Jessica Page and FMC . Each farmer in the project has chosen a paddock to use IPM strategies to control insects over the three years to see if and how IPM can be used in a Wimmera-Mallee broadacre cropping system to improve profitability and decrease reliance on pesticides. 

In the lead up to the meeting, pitfall traps were placed in each paddock to capture insects to gain an insight into what insects were present. These were then counting and displayed which enabled attendees to gain a truer understanding of what pests and beneficials are in their system and how using fewer broad-spectrum insecticides to help boost beneficials and hence increase natural control of the pests, will be an important part of their IPM strategy.  

Participating farmers and their agronomists discussed the pest issues they were currently finding (the major pest is currently slugs) and how to best to manage these using IPM strategies.  

Ms Page said that it was about getting growers to think about their management practices differently, for example: checking paddocks weekly, factoring in the insects present and moving away from spraying ‘just in case’. 

“If we keep the beneficials in the paddock these can do a lot of the work for us,” Ms Page said. “We are not saying don’t spray, just be more selective and start planning earlier.” 

Dr Horne followed: “This can be more cost-effective long term.” 

The group will continue to communicate regularly regarding IPM strategies throughout the season and over the next two years. 

School IPM workshop 

Dr Horne and Ms Page also spoke to Birchip P-12 and Tyrrell College agriculture students about IPM strategies and how the approach has several layers, including biological and cultural, in addition to selective insecticides in an effort to rebalance the pest/beneficial ratio in broadacre cropping systems. 

Students had the opportunity to identify different insects including how to differentiate between pests and beneficials, an integral part of the IPM approach. 

BCG CEO Fiona Best said it was fantastic that Birchip P-12 and Tyrrell College were able to capitalise on Dr Horne and Ms Page’s visit: “They are specialists in their field and BCG are proud to be able to provide our up-and-coming agriculturists access to such prestigious presenters, foster positive experiences and support their ongoing learning in this area.” 

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