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GRDC webinar: Fall armyworm management tips and tactics

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) principal entomologist Melina Miles says this is the most damaging fall armyworm season since the invasive pest arrived in Australia in 2020.
Photo: GRDC

A fall armyworm (FAW) webinar showcasing tactics and tips for control, and best practice management advice from industry experts will be hosted by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) this Friday February 23, at 9 AM AEST (QLD) / 10 AM AEDT (NSW).

The free webinar is in response to the invasive pest being detected at unprecedented levels in sorghum crops across the northern grain growing region.

The webinar will feature insights and information on FAW management strategies from leading experts in the field including Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) principal entomologist Dr Melina Miles and Dr Joe Eyre from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Dr Miles’ and Dr Eyre’s work is part of a GRDC investment aimed at developing reliable FAW yield loss predictions, economic control thresholds and management guidelines for sorghum and maize. The project brings together the expertise of entomologists, agronomists, biometricians and modellers to develop FAW management guidelines for Australian grain growers.

Melina Miles, renowned for her extensive research on pest management, will share her insights on the ecological and entomological aspects of FAW. Drawing from recent findings, Dr Miles will discuss the importance of early decision-making in managing FAW infestations.

“We understand that the level of damage in crops this year is causing concern amongst growers, and I encourage them to work with their advisers to accurately assess FAW infestations before taking action,” Dr Miles says.

“It is our hope that this webinar will answer burning questions from growers, especially those who are impacted by FAW for the first time this season and aren’t sure when it is appropriate to act on an infestation, or how to effectively manage infestations.”

Image of Joe Eyre in a grains field.

Dr Joe Eyre from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) will discuss the challenges and strategies in addressing FAW. Photo: Megan Pope

Dr Joe Eyre, with his background in agronomy and cropping systems, will discuss the challenges and strategies in addressing FAW damage. Dr Eyre’s approach focuses on the development of a robust dataset to guide Australian FAW management decisions, using information to predict the likelihood that FAW damage will impact yield and the magnitude of the yield loss.

“From our research so far, we think Australian growing environments might require a different approach to overseas FAW management approaches.

“The overseas recommendations are to take action based on damage caused by the caterpillars, which may result in crop loss occurring before action is taken or encourage spraying when the pest is no longer active in the crop.

“Neither of these are economically efficient nor ecologically friendly strategies for Australian grain growers,” Dr Eyre said.

Image of Nutrien agronomist Ross Pomroy.Nutrien agronomist Ross Pomroy will share his firsthand experiences with FAW, highlighting the increasing populations of the pest and its unprecedented impact on crops in the Darling Downs region. Photo: Provided.

Dr Eyre says that there’s still a lot that is unknown about FAW, which is why this webinar is so important for growers.

“Most producers haven’t had to worry about how much defoliation an insect causes before flowering, and when defoliation is likely yield limiting, so growers are looking for guidance due to FAW’s presence being so damaging and unfamiliar,” Dr Eyre said.

Nutrien agronomist Ross Pomroy will also share his firsthand experiences with the evolution of management strategies over the past three years, highlighting the increasing populations of FAW and its unprecedented impact on crops in the Darling Downs region.

“We’ve seen a substantial increase in FAW populations over the past 3-4 years on the Darling Downs and there’s a lot of questions about what to do and how to manage it,” Mr Pomroy said.

“I’ll be sharing my experiences in the webinar, talking about what I did at the start to manage FAW and how that’s evolved.

“I think sharing with other growers and agronomists in the northern region is important given how little we still know about this invasive pest.”

Delivered by Independent Consultants Australia Network (ICAN), this webinar is a must-attend for growers and agronomists in the northern region, and anyone involved in the grains industry. It will offer an opportunity to learn from the experts and engage in a timely discussion on mitigating the impact of FAW.

Grower relations manager Rebecca Raymond says the webinar is a great opportunity for growers to receive expert advice on FAW.

Image of GRDC Growers Relations Manager Rebecca Raymond.

“The issue for many sorghum growers is the cost of control measures and likely return on investment.

“The complexity is the tricky part, what are the FAW populations, what is the crop stage of growth, what are the chances my crop will ‘grow away’ from the ongoing damage levels, can I ‘over row’ spray to reduce costs and many other considerations.

“When faced with complexity it pays to get expert advice and we are fortunate to have Melina Miles, Joe Eyre and Ross Pomroy talking to growers via our webinar this Friday.

“GRDCs fast response to emerging issues is an important part of assisting growers to respond to threats like FAW,” Ms Raymond said.

For more information on the webinar and to register, please visit the GRDC events page.

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