Preying on Pasture Pests the IPM Way
Preying on Pasture Pests the IPM Way was a one-year project that provided farmers with information on implementing an Integrated Pest Management strategy (IPM) in their pasture systems.
The aim of the project is to improve pasture management practices so graziers are less reliant on chemical options as the go-to strategy for managing pasture pests.
The project was funded through a Ripe for Change grant, delivered through Sustainable Table, and ran throughout 2019-20.
About Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in pastures is not widely adopted as part of sustainable and resilient land management in grazing systems.
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. Other risk management approaches often include an unnecessary ‘safeguard’ chemical approach to avoid a perceived future problem.
Unfortunately, these approaches often exacerbate problems as the beneficial insects are also killed and without a resilient system these beneficial insect numbers can’t bounce back in time to combat the follow up problem. The treadmill continues.
Add to this, growing concern over the rising cost of farm inputs such as chemicals, OHS, insect resistance and the withdrawal of products from the market and we have a real opportunity to influence farming practice change to a low input system that places an importance on the invaluable invertebrates found in the paddock and the ecosystem services they provide.
The monitoring of changes in invertebrate biodiversity will contribute to a better understanding of sustainable land management as farmers build trust in adopting an IPM approach that gets them off the treadmill.
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.
An introductory IPM workshop was held in October 2019 in partnership with Western Port Catchment Landcare Network and delivered by IPM Technologies, as well known entomological and IPM experts.
A demonstration site 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 trial involved using specific sowing sequence for pasture grains. 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 approach was to sow a pasture mix that is less susceptible to pests first, then once it was established, direct drill and add the highly-susceptible seeds during a second pass. This meant the highly-susceptible seeds are provided protection, and the early sowing of the other seeds has already encouraged beneficial insects which will help to manage the pests.
An online event was held in October 2020 to communicate the preliminary results of the trial. The results showed that this technique did reduce the amount of pasture pests, reduced the need for chemical control and encouraged beneficial inspection.
However as this was a 12 month project, the result are only preliminary and more research 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 being involved.
As part of the project, the following booklet was created to assist farmers with identifying pasture pests and beneficial insects.