Fighting bad bugs with good bugs at Coastal Plains Research Farm

Top End vegetable growers and producers have been shown how naturally occurring beneficial insects can be used to help overcome plant pests.

The Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DIPR) and NT Farmers co-hosted a field day at Coastal Plains Research Farm on Thursday 29 June that looked at developments in integrated pest management (IPM).

DPIR entomologists looked at insects that are considered pests and those that can be beneficial in the field, and showed growers some predatory mites from a biological control supplier that were released onto the snake bean crop to control two-spotted mites.

Field day attendees were also able to view demonstration plots of okra and snake bean, some of which had been managed with conventional sprays and some with IPM techniques, and identify some of the pest and beneficial insects on the crops.

IPM is an environmentally sensitive approach to dealing with plant pests, which fosters naturally occurring beneficial insects (predators and parasitoids) by reducing pesticide use and, when necessary, using chemicals that are soft on beneficials.

The naturally occurring beneficials can be supplemented with releases of predators and parasitoids from biological supply companies.

There are a number of pests that can reduce the yield and quality of vegetable crops, including caterpillars, spider mites, aphids, bean flies, beetles and whiteflies.

The IPM Field Day is one of many regularly events the department is involved in that support industry and showcase research aimed at lowering production costs and maximising productivity and environmental outcomes.

The field day was funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the vegetable levy and funds from the Australian Government, and through the National Landcare Program supported by funds from the Australian Government.

Mite predators are released onto the snake bean crop
Mite predators are released onto the snake bean crop