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Completed project

Facilitating adoption of IPM through a participatory approach with local advisors and industry (VG15034 and VG15035)

Key research provider: IPM Technologies (VG15034) and AUSVEG SA (VG15035)
Publication date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What was it all about?

This program, which ran from 2016 to early 2019, was about increasing uptake of integrated pest management (IPM), with a focus on the South Australian vegetable industry.

IPM can be used to improve the quality of vegetable crops and ensure sustainable vegetable production by integrating all available methods of controlling pests, rather than just relying on pesticides. Though earlier training programs had introduced the concept of IPM to growers, this investment was about providing additional practical support in IPM trial and uptake. It included industry advisors in its training sessions and allowed for follow-up with growers after workshops to help with decision-making during the transition.

Overall the program included initial theory workshops for advisors and growers, involving chemical resellers and a producer of biological control agents to provide pest management advice. Participants developed practical IPM strategies for crops of interest, and agreed to work with their advisors to trial IPM.

Practical training was then delivered via a combination of field visits and regular phone and email contact on how to monitor crops, identify pest and beneficial species, implement cultural controls, and differentiate between pesticide products based on their relative compatibility with IPM programs. Advisors were supported to make IPM decisions and formulate IPM recommendations week‐by‐week and they progressively gained skills, experience and confidence in these tasks.  

AUSVEG SA coordinated commercial partners and growers to ensure engagement with the project, and to support the roll-out of the training and ongoing IPM advice. Successful collaboration saw more than 30 trials across a number of commodities and growing situations (field and protected cropping) implemented over the three years of the project.

The level of pest control achieved in IPM demonstration trials was found to be equal to or better than conventionally managed crops, while using less pesticide.

A formal evaluation of the program was undertaken by independent consultants Clearwater Horizon, through Facilitating adoption of IPM through a participatory approach with local advisors and industry – evaluation component (VG15036). This review, which included interviews with participants and the wider industry, described the program as “highly effective”. The extension techniques, showcasing the benefits and effectiveness of IPM by working with local advisors as well as growers, and the provision of follow-up support, was shown to be effective at bringing about changes in vegetable farming.

Since all key advisors who give pest management recommendations to vegetable growers in South Australia were trained in IPM – with the majority becoming champions of the pest management approach – the investment was expected to result in an increasing, ongoing uptake of IPM in South Australia and in time, more broadly.

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Related levy funds
Details

ISBN:
978 0 7341 4478 2 (VG15034 report) and 978 0 7341 4482 9 (VG15035 report)

Funding statement:
This program was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund