Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Beneficial insects to keep vegetable pests in check

Researchers

Project resources

Summary

More than a decade of research using ecological tactics to reduce pest and disease losses in a variety of crops including rice, cotton, vegetables and pine plantations.

Aim

A research project is focused on ecologically-based approaches to boost the impact of naturally occurring beneficial insects to help keep pests in vegetable crops in check.

A new project funded by Hort Innovation is  providing vegetable growers with additional tactics for use in their integrated pest management (IPM) strategies.

Where perennial vegetation is lacking farmers can use strips of annual plants to attract beneficial insects.

It’s hoped the beneficial insects can keep outbreaks of vegetable pests in check, reducing the need for the use of synthetic insecticides.

What's involved

Field trials in four states have examined growing flowering plants like sweet alyssum, buckwheat, and cornflowers amongst the Brassica vegetable crops.

These flowers support beneficial bugs and insects by providing shelter, nectar, alternative prey and pollen.

It follows a survey of more than 400 vegetable fields around Australia that showed insect populations in vegetable fields were strongly affected by the adjacent land use.

Non-crop vegetation such as, riparian strips and shelterbelts tend to be associated with higher numbers of beneficial insects, and lower numbers of pests.

This project ‘Field and landscape management to support beneficial arthropods for IPM on vegetable farms (VG16062)’ has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the vegetable research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government.