Preying on Pasture Pests the IPM Way

Preying on Pasture Pests the IPM Way is a one-year project that provides 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 is funded through a Ripe for Change grant, delivered through Sustainable Table, and runs during 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.

Project activities

Paul Horne from IPM Technologies showing farmers beneficial and pest insects

An introductory IPM workshop was held in October 2019 with Western Port Catchment Landcare Network and delivered by IPM Technologies as well known entomological and IPM experts.

A demonstration site that has implemented the IPM strategy was set up and has been monitored for pest and beneficial insects in spring 2019 and autumn 2020.

A results day is tentatively set for October 2020 and a field guide will be developed to communicate the results. To be informed when these occur sign up to the PPWCMA enews.

Next steps

A follow up project proposal is being written as early observations have lead to a greater understanding of pest insects and interactions with pasture composition.

This has lead to a hypothesis on starving out pest insects (such as Lucerne flea) by altering the sequencing and timing of sowing (renovating) pastures.

This hypothesis needs further trialling and testing to collect the evidence to demonstrate a positive outcome in changing the way pastures are sown.

Project partners

Project partners for the Preying on Pasture Pests the IPM Way project include the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network (through their Demonstrating Sustainable Farming Practices Program) and IPM Technologies. The project is funded by Ripe for Change, which is delivered through Sustainable Table.