A series of workshops held throughout the northern region in February and March addressed early season pest management in canola.
The workshops, which introduced integrated pest management (IPM) concepts for canola, will be followed up with a mid-season paddock walk to discuss pest problems encountered. A webinar presentation from cesar will also occur later in the season.
Agronomist Phil Bowden is running the workshops. He says it is the first time canola has been targeted specifically.
"Canola is considered a valuable crop, but it has issues with delicate seedlings which are very prone to pests at emergence. So it is important that it gets away at establishment," he says.
Additionally, the move to earlier sowing times in some areas has pushed sowing back into early autumn, increasing the chances of a green bridge and more insect pests.
"Pests of early canola are more threatening than those that occur later in the season and that is why we are doing this series of road shows," Dr Bowden says.
Although the concept of IPM is not new, introducing it to canola may require some growers to "take a leap of faith", he says.
Canola is considered a valuable crop, but it has issues with delicate seedlings which are very prone to pests at emergence. So it is important that it gets away at establishment.
"Canola growers are used to a simple system of chemical control. However, through presenting the latest research, we want to ask growers to consider IPM," Dr Bowden says.
IPM uses a combination of practices and cultural, biological and chemical methods to reduce the need for pesticide-intensive activities such as broadacre spraying.
For canola growers, it could mean moving from chemically controlling pests to identifying them and monitoring them before making decisions.
"Moving from chemical control to biological control, where you use natural enemies to control pests, involves making more complex decisions, such as monitoring for damage and checking for natural enemies," Dr Bowden says.
"It is a big ask, so we are simplifying it and saying try it on one paddock first."
Dr Bowden says chemical controls also destroy beneficial insects.
"The ground-dwelling ones can take a long time to recover," he says.
"Growers may then see a spike in other pests because there are no natural enemies."
The workshops suggest a 'wait-and-see' approach.
"Wait and see what the pest is and then monitor it. Many find that a chemical spray is not needed," Dr Bowden says.
The workshops are aimed at helping growers and agronomists better identify canola pests and beneficial insects.
Dr Bowden says some can be confused with each other.
"There is a pest called the bronze field beetle and it looks like a beneficial carabid beetle," he says.
"While the bronze field beetle can cause huge damage and prevent canola from germinating, the flightless nocturnal carabid eats a wide range of soft-bodied prey such as caterpillars, aphids, wireworms, earwigs and slugs.
"It is an important predator for pests."
Dr Bowden says the workshops have backed up the latest research into IPM.
More information: Phil Bowden, 0427 201 946, email@example.com