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.
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