An integrated pest, disease and weed management program for the Australian apple and pear industry (AP16007)
What’s it all about?
Beginning in late 2017, this program is tasked with helping apple and pear growers develop and maintain pest-resilient farming systems using integrated pest management (IPM). It will provide clear knowledge on the tools and systems required to implement IPM, which involves the effective combination of chemical, cultural and biological methods to control pests, diseases and other undesirables in a ‘whole of system’ approach.
The program was instigated by previous project A needs analysis for IPM R&D in the Apple and Pear Industry (AP15014), which reviewed the state of IPM in the apple and pear industry and found that while there was a high level of awareness and availability of necessary tools, adoption of true IPM was low – while 86 per cent of growers surveyed said they were using IPM, further investigation suggested that, by the technical definition, only 25 per cent actually were.
The project team is progressing on the following activities…
- Reviews of the existing industry integrated pest management (IPM) manual have been underway to ensure industry has access to current knowledge, tools and systems to effectively manage pests. The most recent revision is currently underway and is scheduled to be finalised in late 2020.
- The established orchard case studies were visited by the state coordinators in February and March-2019 to assist growers with their IPDM action plans that were developed at the end of the previous season.
- Damage assessments have been conducted at the case study orchards in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, project leaders were unable to assist the local coordinators with damage assessments at the South Australian and Western Australian orchards. However, analysis of the results from the other eastern states indicated that the growers achieved good results in terms of pest and disease management. Further data on pesticide usage, costs of production, and returns from the case study blocks will be available after all harvesting has been completed.
- Training workshops were conducted in each state in November and December 2019 using the case study orchards where appropriate. Problems addressed in the training were the monitoring of mites, woolly apple aphid, the second cohort of codling moth, and recognition of beneficial species.
- A successful video conference was held in mid-2019 where discussions on management options to control Alternaria (pathogen) took place.
For further background on this project see previous levy-funded project A needs analysis for IPM R&D in the Apple and Pear Industry (AP15014), which was the driving factor for establishing an integrated pest, disease and weed management program.
The project team are continuing to create new resources for growers all of which can found on the Australian Apple and Pear IPDM site here. You can also access case study updates here and get help in implementing IPDM in your orchard using the ask an expert function .
Eight case study sites have been established in Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, SA (x2), WA (x2), and NSW. Each case study orchard has commenced development of a tailored IPDM implementation plan and updates can be found on the community of practice website.
A common theme across all states concerned levels of mite infestation. Dry conditions in most districts and chemical control of pests such as codling moth, mealybugs, and dimpling bug contributed to the problem.
The team is finding that growers need help to develop an individual IPDM action plan, so the ‘Ask an Expert’ function on the IPDM site went live in December 2018, giving growers easy access to IPDM expertise.
A community of practice has been set up, providing the expertise needed to develop the revised edition of the industry’s IPDM manual. The team is comprised of regional coordinators and subject-matter experts with knowledge of each apple and pear growing region, so that the manual will be useful to all.
Industry workshops have also been held in each state to identify regional differences in pest and disease issues, as well as to identify orchards that will participate in the research. The workshops also provided training in monitoring techniques and interpreting trapping results, and facilitated the development of an IPDM action plan for the participants.
Meanwhile, a website has been set up to house information produced by the program, which will include case studies, Q&As with advisors, instructional articles and more. You can visit the Australian Apple and Pear IPDM section of the eXtensionAUS platform here.
A key piece of work for the program is revising the industry’s existing IPM manual (which can be found on the APAL website here) to put a greater focus on the integration of management practices that optimise monitoring and management of pests and diseases. At the time of writing this update, the project’s team of experts had reviewed the existing document and were in the process of producing new material.
The program is taking regional differences in pests and diseases into consideration, producing region-specific guidelines within the manual. It is also set to deliver region-specific training and ‘ask an expert’ support for both new growers and advisors, and those who are more experienced but seeking to upgrade their knowledge, skills and confidence. From this, case studies will be produced for the wider industry. Look out for opportunities in industry channels, as they become available. Also stay tuned for web-based project resources, with more information to come as the project progresses.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Apple and Pear Fund