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Ongoing project

An integrated systems based approach for pest management in Australian macadamia (MC21000)

Key research provider: Macquarie University

What's it all about?

This investment is establishing a decision-support system to facilitate timely and effective pest management decisions for Australian macadamia growers and other industry stakeholders.

Previous levy-funded work Integrated pest management program for the Australian macadamia industry (various projects from MC16004 to 16008) established a knowledge database of key pests, biocontrol agents, and key priorities for pest management in macadamia. However, pest management options based on precise treatment thresholds and economic injury have not yet been established.

This project is developing a comprehensive, integrated management package that incorporates ecological and environmental dimensions and fits into the regional/local macadamia orchards ecosystem.

The program has three key areas of work:

  1. Delivering ecological studies across the latitudinal range of the industry in Queensland and New South Wales. These studies aim to provide information on occurrence patterns of pests of concern, their biology, and population dynamics, as well as pest interactions with natural enemies and macadamia phenology. Environmental factors affecting the population dynamics of pests and their natural enemies will be identified.

  2. Building on existing pest monitoring protocols and developing decision support systems. This includes the development of a macadamia agro-ecosystem model integrated with economic analyses to consider the efficacy of various integrated pest management strategies, both chemical and biological. It will establish evidence-based damage thresholds, tolerance levels and benchmarks of the return from control measures using the Economic Injury Level (EIL) and Economic Threshold (ET) framework. A risk matrix will also be developed.

  3. Improving our understanding of biological control of macadamia pests. Regional and field studies will identify existing natural enemies of all the pests of concern. The studies will assess the seasonal abundance and diversity of the natural enemies under changing environmental conditions and resource availability.

Substantial progress has been made in the first year of this program to bridge the knowledge gap regarding the ecology, biology, and epidemiology of high-priority pests and their relevant natural enemies. The project team has:

  • Finalised the review on three key pests and the parasitoid Anastatus sp.
  • Begun the reviews of other key macadamia pests and potential natural enemies.
  • Made multiple visits to Bundaberg, Gympie, and Alstonville to engage with pest consultants to discuss a prototype phone app developed to facilitate the collection of phenological data on macadamias and pests.
  • Agreed with pest consultants to conduct monitoring activities in macadamia orchards located in Northern rivers, Gympie, and Bundaberg. The data collected through the app will be used to refine model parameters and validate the constructed models. Additionally, the pest consultants will have access to the digitally formatted data for any necessary analyses.
  • Commenced supplementary research endeavors, such as the study of macadamia predators.

During the first six months of the project, a review is underway on the knowledge base on ecology, biology and epidemiology of high and moderate priority pests and their relevant natural enemies. A preliminary review outline, incorporating all aspects of the methodology has been established.

The research team has established communication with Australian Macadamia Society (AMS) and visited macadamia orchards at major growing regions – Bundaberg, Gympie, and Northern Rivers. At each location, the research team also presented an overview and scope of the project to growers and industry members who had the opportunity to provide feedback.

Related levy funds

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