Who enjoys using chemicals, especially on food crops? No one!
Wouldn’t it be great if there were easier, cheaper, safer and more effective ways of controlling pests?
Two market Gardeners just north of Adelaide in Virgina are well on their way to heading there.
While they have not been able to eliminate chemicals completely, two projects they have embarked on, have greatly reduced the need for insecticides, with some amazing benefits.
One project looked at the effect of vegetation on insect pests.
Consider the following photos that illustrate a change in approach to pest control.
In the first photo we see greenhouses that are surrounded by introduced weeds (wild turnip, wild mustard, marshmallow, etc) on which insect pests such as thrips thrive and breed. It’s simple for the pests to move from the weeds onto crops when they are first planted in the glasshouse. A hefty spray program is currently the accepted way to protect the crops from direct insect damage and reduce the risk of insects carrying viral diseases from weeds to the crops.
The next photo shows a roadside where the weeds have been controlled, removing them as a source of insects that infest crops. Bare earth buffers can be effective, however it is still possible for infected insects to blow in from neighbouring properties where weeds and old diseased crops have not been removed.
The last photo shows a hydroponic growing area that is surrounded by several species of native saltbush. The benefits of the saltbush include:
- It covers the ground and does not allow weed species to grow, reducing the need to spray weeds with herbicide.
- It does not support pest insects such as aphids and thrips, so they cannot breed on the saltbush and move into the crop.
- It supports natural predators that could control pest insects that blow into the vegetation from neighbouring properties.
These innovate growers do not need to spray insecticides as often they used to, saving time and money.
The next step is to plant saltbush under the hydroponic tables, to encourage predators in the growing area.
Want more information about this? Have a look at the book Revegetation by Design Guidebook, which can be downloaded at http://www.sardi.sa.gov.au/pestsdiseases/research_projects2/research_projects/revegetation_by_design
This article originally appeared in AgChemNews. A quarterly broadcast providing up to date industry specific information on Chemical Safety and Uses. For more information or to sign up to broadcasts visit smithandgeorg.com.au/agchemnews.