Ground Cover South : Ground Cover 071 November-December 2007 - South
NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2007 GROUND COVER 21 Crop protection n “I can’t remember the last time I was able to question a local entomologist,” came the comment from one of the 30 participants in a day-long invertebrate identification National Invertebrate Pest Initiative (NIPI) course. My fellow course participant went on to explain that most entomologists he meets as a farm adviser are working on specific projects and do not welcome ad hoc questioning, which puts more pressure back on to advisers. Nonetheless, the advisers seemed to manage remarkably well. In a pre-course identification quiz, the group attending the Wagga Wagga course scored better than 70 per cent, and then close to 100 per cent after a morning spent peering down microscopes. Attendees were all subscribers and potential contributors to the PestFacts service, an invertebrate pest warning and identification service. Coordinated by one of the presenters at the course, Dr Paul Umina of the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR), PestFacts depends on district advisers and agronomists giving early warnings of crop invasions. CESAR offers a free pest-identification service, and this positive in-the-paddock identification cuts the reaction and control time considerably. So does the use of mobile phones with cameras. Judy Bellati of the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) said that she is becoming increasingly skilled at identifying in-the-paddock photos of pests sent to her mobile phone. “Time of year and type of crop narrows the field quite a bit,” she said, adding that photos of insects would be some of the more unusual images sent via mobile phones. “Some clients will ring you the moment they find a bug in their crop,” said one adviser. “At other times, the crop’s almost gone before they pick up a problem. Either way, control depends on a quick and correct identification of species.” A hand-held lens will be standard issue for each of the advisers attending the course, and many of the major agribusiness houses now see a centrally located microscope as one of the tools of the trade. “We pitch these courses at different levels, either dealing with particular pests with a group of farmers in one area, or more broadly based courses for advisers,” Dr Umina said, “and we just can’t keep up with demand.” GRDC Research Code CSE00029 More information: PestFacts is available from cesarconsultants.com.au ADVISERS COME TO GRIPS WITH PEST ID Hands-on identification courses under the National Invertebrate Pest Initiative are lifting the skills of advisers and cutting the time it takes to react to pest invasions. Alec Nicol joined a course at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga Course participants brush up on their insect identification skills. PHOTOS: ALEC NICOL A hand-held lens is essential for pest identification.
Ground Cover 070 September-October 2007 - South
Ground Cover 072 January-February 2008 - South