Pest management trial yields positive results

14 October 2020

On 7th October 2020, the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA and the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network ran a preliminary results day on the demonstration site as part of the Preying on Insects the IPM Way project.

This one year pilot project provided farmers with information on implementing an Integrated Pest Management strategy (IPM) in their pasture systems.

The aim of the project was to improve pasture management practices so graziers are less reliant on chemical options as the go-to strategy for managing pasture pests.

This was done through educational events with a local farmer discussion group and a demonstration site that was set up and monitored to trial a new IPM approach for pastures that reduced pest (and therefore the need for chemical control) and encouraged beneficial insects.

The project funded through Ripe For Change (delivered through Sustainable Table).

Benefits of integrated pest management

Adopting IPM as a management tool can deliver significant reductions in farm input costs and result in improved productivity and a much more resilient farm ecosystem.

Conventional control usually relies heavily on a pesticide treadmill to treat a pest problem, often creating a niche for another pest problem to replace it.

These approaches often exacerbate problems as the beneficial insects are also killed and without a resilient system these beneficial insects can’t bounce back in time to help combat the pests.

About the trial

The trial involved using a specific sowing sequence for renovating a pasture. Pests such as the reg-legged earth mite and lucerne flea target broad leaf species, depleting their nutrients and therefore reducing the nutrients available to grazing livestock.

The trial’s assumption was to sow a pasture mix that is less suspectable to pests first, then once it was established, direct drill and add the highly-suspectable seeds during a second pass (appx 6 months after depending on the crop and season).

This meant the highly-suspectable seeds are provided protection, and the early sowing of the other seeds has already depleted pest numbers as the less preferred species to eat.

Preliminary results

The early results show that this technique can contribute to reducing pasture pests, reduce the need for chemical control and encourage beneficial invertebrates. However as this was a 12 month project, the result are only preliminary and more trials and monitoring is needed.

The PPWCMA and project partners are sourcing additional funds to continue the trials and multiple farmers in the Cardinia and Gippsland areas have already expressed an interest in the results and changing practices if this technique proves successful.

A short video of the demonstration site can be seen below. A field guide for pasture pests and predators will be available shortly. Sign up to the PPWCMA enews to be informed when this becomes available.