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Ongoing project

Citrus industry IPDM extension program (CT19011)

Key research provider: NSW Department of Primary Industries

What’s it all about?

This investment is working to increase the citrus industry’s knowledge of pests and diseases and how to control them using integrated pest and disease management strategies that will minimise the use of environmental and consumer-sensitives chemicals. Australian citrus exports will have greater appeal to consumers through this method, as market preferences trend towards zero chemical residues.

The project will work with established networks in the citrus industry to communicate and extend new knowledge and practices on whole-farm IPDM that will maximise adoption across the citrus industry.

A key component of this program is engaging with growers and advisors at a farm level through workshops and farm walks at demonstration sites that implement IPDM strategies. This on-farm engagement will be supported by resources included a field guide, fact sheets, published information and videos.

The project will:

  • Extend current knowledge, skills and tools on IPDM of pests and diseases in citrus orchards, with a non-exclusive focus on citrus gall wasp, Fuller’s rose weevil, red scale, citrus mealybug, citrus katydid, citrus black spot and Emperor brown spot, and consideration for citrus black core rot, anthracnose, phytophthora and any emerging pests and diseases of significance as identified in the initial project survey.

  • Undertake research, where growers and horticultural agronomists participate in the decision-making for the demonstration site, to support further development of effective IPDM for the citrus industry.

An integrated pest and disease management (IPDM) practice survey in 2022 identified the differing extension needs of each Australian citrus production region. Throughout the 2022–23 production season, the IPDM extension program has facilitated workshops and seasonal field walks in Far North Queensland, the Riverina, Sunraysia, the Riverland and Western Australia.

The Central Burnett growers identified the need for a study tour rather than seasonal pest and disease field walks, as IPDM crop specialists service the region well. QDAF facilitated a workshop in September with Dan Papacek and a seasonal farm walk in April at Mareeba. This event was held at an IPDM demonstration site focusing on the integrated management of oriental mite. Darcy Filmer of Natural Solutions and Emily Pattinson from QDAF were key speakers. 

Rachelle Johnstone, from DPIRD in Western Australia, facilitated IPDM workshops at Bindoon and Harvey in September 2022. Cezar Moraes and Lachlan Chilman from Biological Services helped to increase participant knowledge of IPDM at the start of the growing season. Field sessions identified beneficials in the orchard and integrated strategies to manage the region's key pests. DPIRD also facilitated seasonal farm walks in Burekup and Gingin in March 2023 with Dr Nerida Donovan, Citrus Pathologist (NSW DPI). The autumn events focused on the timely management of citrus diseases.

NSW DPI facilitated IPDM workshops focusing on Queensland fruit fly at Dareton, Loxton, Waikerie and Griffith. The events were held in late August, just before overwintering Queensland fruit fly became active again. Later in the season, farm walks were held at Griffith and Leeton, just before citrus gall wasp emergence. Two growers from the northern production regions shared their knowledge of controlling gall wasps at the events. A Sunraysia grower and an IPDM consultant from Mundubberra also spoke and answered Riverina grower's questions via Zoom.

NSW DPI held a seasonal farm walk in March at a Leeton IPDM demonstration site focused on managing citrus gall wasps. NSW DPI held the 4th Riverina seasonal farm walk at Arcifa Bros orchard, focusing on the integrated strategies used to manage key pests. Sunraysia seasonal farm walks were held in April at a red scale IPDM demonstration site in Dareton, NSW. Another seasonal farm walk was held at Gill Farms Orchard in Iraak in Victoria. Giving Riverland growers the opportunity to discuss Queensland fruit fly management with Central Burnett and Riverina growers was a key focus of the SA seasonal farm walks held at Loxton and Waikerie in April 2023.

The citrus industry integrated pest and disease management (IPDM) extension program identified different extension needs in different citrus production regions. Workshops and seasonal field walks are held each season to increase grower and crop advisor knowledge of citrus pests and diseases and to also encourage sustainable pest management.

Since the last progress report, IPDM workshops focused on Queensland fruit fly were facilitated by NSW DPI at Dareton, Loxton, Waikerie and Griffith in late August 2022. Dan Papacek from Bugs for Bugs and Andrew Jessup from Janren Consulting were interstate guest speakers at these workshops. In Queensland, QDAF facilitated an IPDM workshop focused on mites in September at Mareeba with Dan Papacek. In Western Australia, IPDM workshops were held in Bindoon and Harvey during September with Cezar Moraes and Lachlan Chilman from Biological Services, facilitated by DPIRD. NSW DPI also facilitated seasonal farm walks at Griffith and Leeton to coincide with the emergence of citrus gall wasps.

Participant feedback from each event was positive and reported improvement in participant knowledge and greater participant confidence with the management of the featured insect pest. The IPDM extension program is working on publishing fact sheets to support future field walks and video publications to assist further development of grower knowledge. 

The IPDM practices survey collected evidence of grower knowledge gaps and industry reliance on some chemicals. The adoption and use of crop monitoring and IPDM specialists vary between the regions nationally. The survey identified the importance of rural supply store horticulturists and packers in assisting growers with their pest and disease management decisions. Irregular supply of some key beneficial insects and availability of effective, multi-activity insecticide chemistry has seen a decrease in beneficial insect releases. Several growers commented, ‘class #1 fruit must be maximised to be profitable and chemicals achieve a better result’. Fresh markets have almost zero tolerance for pests and packers’ expectations of growers reflect this.

IPDM demonstration sites are established in each of the main citrus regions to promote sustainability in pest and disease management. IPDM specialists are monitoring the sites and advising on pest management. Where possible, each site has tried to avoid the use of neonicotinoid insecticides as the citrus Strategic Agrichemical Review Process 2022 highlighted a significant risk to maintaining regulatory access to such chemicals in the medium term. The sites can potentially be used for seasonal farm walks, case studies and video publications throughout the IPDM extension program.

IPDM grower groups in different regions are currently being formed, with over 30 people registering their interest in participating.

At the end of March, seasonal farm walks were undertaken in Mareeba, Griffith, Leeton, Ellerslie, Iraak, Waikerie and Loxton. There was a total of 93 participants (excluding project staff and IPDM consultants). Participant feedback indicates the events were well received.

The project team have designed an efficient yet thorough IPDM practices survey with expert guidance from Dr Katrina Sinclair, a social science researcher from the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Matt Adkins (Leader Industry Adoption) from NSW DPI has led the development of the survey and data management. Survey data is currently being collected by IPDM project collaborators nationally. Matt also facilitated a citrus IPDM – CSIRO ADOPT model with the group focused upon citrus gall wasp.

The project team has drafted a citrus IPDM scorecard. The project team will select growers from each region throughout the IPDM extension project to evaluate whether the scorecard concept would suit the citrus industry.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Citrus Fund