A national research project led by the CSIRO has discovered a potentially valuable new tool for the control of insect pests in grain crops.
sends pests packing
The project was undertaken in an attempt to understand which landscape features contributed to the control of pest populations in crops.
It involved field work in Western Australia’s Great Southern region, Dalby in Queensland and Cootamundra in New South Wales.
Researcher from the WA Department of Agriculture and Food, Svetlana Micic said data taken from remnant vegetation in WA showed insect pests were more likely to be found on weeds, while beneficial species were more likely to be found on native plant species.
“Remnant bushland containing few weeds may reduce the number of pest species and at least delay the build-up of pests in crops during the growing season,” Ms Micic said.
“In our studies, weeds likely to host pests included nightshade, capeweed, fleabane, mustard, wild radish and weed grasses.”
Researcher from the CSIRO, Hazel Parry analysed the WA data and said beneficial insects were actually three times more likely than pest species to be found in remnant native vegetation.
Dr Parry said she was now using computer simulations of landscapes to understand which management practices – within crops and pastures as well as native vegetation – affected pest populations by encouraging beneficial insects or reducing sources of pests.
“This information may be useful for growers thinking about revegetation options on their land,” Dr Parry said.
“Initial results from WA suggest that native vegetation - that is well managed, is not over-grazed and has an intact under and middle plant storey - has less weeds and harbours fewer pests.”
Edition 345F, 25 January 2013