The central issue is how to further farm management practices that are hostile to pests but favourable to the beneficial species that prey on the pests. Balance is the key and farmers will not achieve this with a boom spray.
Landcare Community Forum
TLG have run eight Landcare Community Forums during 2007-8, thanks to funding grants of $1,000 from the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) and the Victorian State Government. The purpose of these forums has been to educate our membership and to combine this with opportunities for a little socialising and group bonding. Here’s a brief report of one of these forums, along with some interesting developments.
The Landcare Community Forum on June 12, 2008 was led by Cam Nicholson from Southern Farming Systems Group. He outlined two inspiring projects that he’s been working on in collaboration with others. He spoke of ‘Integrated Pest management’ (IPM), an approach to controlling pests and weeds in crops and pastures. He emphasised the importance of understanding the ecology of pest insects and their predators. He said that while chemical control was still considered important, it could be much reduced, and used more strategically.
Cam used an etymologist's studies to inform his talk and showed photographs of insects such as the brown lacewing being a predator to the destructive aphids. The pests were known to many but not the predators.
A simple example of an IPM strategy is the use of seed innoculation to protect crops against ‘Red Legged Earth Mite’, hence removing the need to spray insecticide. In the past, use of insecticide has not only killed all the adult mites but also all their predators; so when the new mites hatch, the population explodes (as there are no predators to keep them in check) More spraying becomes necessary so that a ‘vicious cycle’ is set up.
Landcarers attending the evening were so interested in this approach that the Torquay Landcare Group Committee sought an expression of interest from those attending the forum. It was agreed that the committee would organise a Field Day, around this knowledge base, for early 2009, to assist local farmers in exploring how better to deal with insects on the farm. It will mean that we have to become involved in some fund raising to enable this to happen; and so as to be able to engage the services of an expert etymologist. This may give our activities a new direction.
Why was there such interest in this approach from the community?
- Basically, farmers hate using chemicals;
- The build up of pest resistance becomes a problem in itself;
- A clean green product is desirable;
- Such approaches mean that more chemicals can be withdrawn from the market than new ones introduced.
A useful resource was highlighted for those who wanted to follow up the ideas immediately: ‘Integrated Pest Management for Crops and Pastures’, published by CSIRO.