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Ongoing project

Co-developing and extending integrated Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm) management systems for the Australian vegetable industry (VG20003)

Key research provider: Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

What’s it all about?

This project will support the rapid co-development of an integrated fall armyworm management strategy that will deliver better outcomes for those regions currently affected by fall armyworm as well as for those regions that may experience an incursion in the future.

This investment seeks to provide the support needed by the Bowen, Bundaberg, Burdekin, Gumlu and Lockyer Valley vegetable industries, their advisory networks, support industries and researchers to capture, develop and use their experience of managing FAW on-farm in 20/21 and 21/22 seasons.

Through this investment, the vegetable industry will work closely with researchers to identify management gaps and trial a range of strategies on-farm. Outcomes from these trials will be shared with the Australian vegetable industry and will inform future fall armyworm research investments. This investment will work closely with project Identifying potential parasitoids of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, and the risk to Australian horticulture (MT19015).

Over the past six months, the project team report progress in co-designing and demonstrating fall armyworm management strategies in sweetcorn crops, extending fall armyworm management information to the vegetable industry through participation in a field day and hosting a co-design workshop for future fall armyworm RD&E directions.

In consultation with agronomists working with sweetcorn industry and technical staff from chemical companies, fall armyworm best management options were co-developed. In designing the options, team has considered best performing chemistries and their impact on beneficial insects, crop phenology stages, fall armyworm and other pest pressures, spray application methods and varieties with industry standards.

Three sweetcorn blocks were planted on 10 August at the DAF station Bowen to target moderate to high fall armyworm pressures. Two best management options were based on the approved products and currently available resources for industry. The third best management option had new promising chemistry and improved sweetcorn varieties.

Fall armyworm pressure was low to moderate during the vegetative stage and increased to moderate to high levels during tasseling and silking (19 to 54 per cent infestation). The demo blocks were monitored weekly and sprayed using an air-assisted boom with spray volume of 300 to 500 L/ ha. The commercially available egg parasitoid, Trichogramma pretiosum forheliothis and ladybird beetles (Harmonia octomaculata) for aphids were released using a drone. Larval parasitoids (Cotesia sp.) were released for controlling fall armyworm. The data and information collected from this demonstration site were summarised and distributed to participants at the field day.

A field day was held on the demonstration site on 19 October 2022. Twenty-two agronomists, researchers, and representatives from sweetcorn and chemical companies, and seed industries participated. Drone spray applications with three different volumes (30, 40 and 50 L /ha) using non-toxic dye were demonstrated at the field day. Participants viewed the differences in spray droplet distribution and penetration patterns with three spray volumes, engaged with displays of natural enemies of fall armyworm, and discussed fall armyworm management issues facing the industry. The field day event was published in Fall armyworm engagement hub and the FAW newsletter (October 2022). This field day event was filmed. A virtual field day video will be available to industry on the Queensland Agriculture YouTube channel and the fall armyworm engagement hub.

A co-design workshop was held on 17-18 November 2022 at the EcoSciences Precinct, Brisbane. Fifteen participants representing sweetcorn companies, AUSVEG, Hort Innovation, DAF QLD and NSW DPI attended the workshop. The workshop was jointly organised by Dr Olive Hood (Hort Innovation, Regional Extension Manager) and Dr Tim Smith (DAF Director Forestry Biosciences RD & E) and facilitated by Dr John James (Enablers of Change).

Related levy funds

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