Fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith, 1797) on the corn leaf
Fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith, 1797) on the corn leaf

CQ growers doing it tough to tackle increasing pest threat

From drought to labour shortages, growers across the Central Queensland region have been doing it tough over the past few months.

And a new threat, Fall Armyworm, is putting further pressure on the area’s fruit and vegetable growers.

To support growers to tackle their pest, virus, disease and biosecurity issues, Growcom has revealed it will run practical workshops in Yeppoon, Mackay and Gympie this month.

The peak body for Queensland horticulture will host guest presenters at the event such as Callum Fletcher from AUSVEG, Nancy Schellhorn from RapidAIM, Paul Jones from Bugs for Bugs, and Cherie Gambley, principal Plant Pathologist from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The workshops will cover a range of topics including:

  • use of beneficial insects as a part of a wider pest management program
  • developments in technology to improve the accuracy of infield detection
  • developing or updating biosecurity plans
  • best management practice in pesticide use and biosecurity, and
  • technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of beneficial insect releases

Mr Fletcher, who is the national biosecurity co-ordinator for AUSVEG, has extensive insect taxonomy and plant pathology knowledge on a range of crop pests in cereals, potatoes, and vegetables.

He will cover a number of current insect pest issues, but additionally present on the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy.

Ms Schellhorn is a co-inventor and co-founder of RapidAIM Insect Sensing Technologies. RapidAIM technology offers a service to the agriculture industry of regional pest surveillance, crop border security, and pest forecasts.

Previously, she was a principal research scientist with CSIRO, leading several national projects such as the ‘Area-wide management of Queensland Fruit Fly: Guidelines for SIT’.

Hort360GBR facilitators based in Great Barrier Reef catchments are co-ordinating the workshop series and encourage vegetable growers, in particular, to take time out of their busy schedule to attend.

Michelle Haase, Hort360 facilitator for the Burnett-Mary, said the practical workshops would assist growers in best pest prepared.

“We had excellent grower participation in our soils workshop series last year and are looking forward to being able to support growers to tackle their pest, virus, disease and biosecurity issues,” she said.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of the Queensland Government, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, and the Fitzroy Basin Association to be able to run these events in the Burnett-Mary and Burdekin regions.”

Also to be demonstrated at the workshops will be Hort360, the best management practice program designed for the horticulture industry.

This online tool allows producers to benchmark their farming and business practices and gives growers a bird’s eye view of their farm, their practices and potential efficiencies.

“Growcom recently launched the Hort360 Reef Certification program so that growers in Great Barrier Reef catchments can become accredited for gaining business efficiencies, and demonstrating sustainability and environmental stewardship,” Hort360 program manager, Scott Wallace said.

“We are currently working with 58 growers to use the tool and potentially be certified in the program.”

Registration is essential, as there will be special provisions in place to accommodate social distancing and hygiene requirements due to COVID-19.

Pest Aware, Pest Prepared workshops will be held in March in the following location:

Gympie – 10am – 2.30pm, Wednesday 17 March

Mackay – 9.30am – 3.30pm, Monday 22 March

Yeppoon – 2pm – 6pm, Friday 26 March

To register visit www.growcom.com.au/events or contact Hort360 Facilitator Eilis Walker on 0477 411 464 or email ewalker@growcom.com.au

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