Post-harvest is the perfect time to do simple on-farm hygiene jobs to protect stored grain from pests.
Grain Farm Biosecurity Program officer Kym McIntyre advises summer is a good time to clean unused grain storage and handling equipment and clear piles of on-farm grain residues.
“Hygiene is an essential step to ensure grain on your farm is kept ready for market in a safe, insect-free environment,” he said.
“It is important to make sure old grain residues are not left piled up on your farm. Storage pests will breed in these piles and may fly up to one kilometre back to stored grain and infest it again.
“To prevent this, bury, burn or spread out the residues in the paddock to less than 20 millimetres deep.”
Grain storage specialist Philip Burrill also recommends unused storage facilities be cleaned of residues.
“You can then apply structural treatments such as diatomaceous earth, commonly known as Dryacide,” he said.
“DE provides a non-chemical option for a structural treatment and it only requires a fine layer along the inside surfaces of the silo. The fine, hard particles of the DE get into the joints of the insect, irritating their waxy exoskeleton and causing them to die of dehydration.”
Mr Burrill also emphasised it was important to clean any grain handling equipment.
A trial done in Qld found a header thought to be cleaned had more than 1000 lesser grain borer insects in the first 40 litres of grain to run through it at the beginning of harvest.
“This shows how a small amount of grain residue can allow insects to breed and subsequently infest freshly harvested grain,” he said.
Mr Burrill recommended applying a small amount of DE into the harvester or handling equipment.
“Run the machine for a few minutes to distribute it through,” he said. “Ideally, this should be done after harvest and again one month prior to the next harvest.”