Technology aims to get the bug balance right

Technology aims to get the bug balance right

Cropping
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Insect trapping technology that provides growers with remote and real-time data of crop pests is being tested on southern Yorke Peninsula.

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

Awarded a $10,000 Community Action Grant by the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board, consultant Michael Nash is trialling DTN Smart Traps and three other insect sampling methods to help croppers 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.

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 focused on tracking pests in pulses, like faba beans, canola and lentils, where insect damage is not tolerated by overseas consumers.

"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 a tonne," Dr Nash said.

"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," he said.

He is also trialling in mixed-species crops, to test if 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 NYLB in July, 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.

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