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Best practice IPM techniques are controlling pests

Growcom’s Hort360 program, the best management practice program for horticulture, has released a new video case study highlighting the farm systems implemented by local Sunshine Coast grower Taste ‘n’ See to control pests and reduce chemical use.

The Bellmere-based joint venture markets around 350 000 cartons of strawberries each year from the adjoining Stoddard and Schiffke family properties.

Pest management is something taken very seriously at Taste ‘n’ See, as damage from insects can quickly become costly. Central to their strategy is the use of beneficial insects.

In recent years the company has employed the services of Aerobugs who utilised a 1.4 metre drone to spread beneficial insects onto the crops to control pests, which saves significant time and money.

“Before we discovered Aerobugs, we’d manually go along and move the beneficial bugs up row-by-row, which was a very slow process,” Owner and Manager of Taste ‘n’ See, Merv Schiffke said.

“But now Aerobugs comes along and does the work, and what would have taken us all day to do they can do in around 15 to 20 minutes.

“It is an amazing scene to see the little drone working. It is a very effective way of releasing those little animals out into the paddock.”

Not only is the service saving time and money, it is also getting on top of pests early and reducing chemicals.

“If you get pest pressures early in the season the plants can come under stress which can affect your production very quickly. Especially two spotted mite which suck the nutrient out of the plant and so they can quickly result in a lower production cycle,” Merv said.

“The other big aspect is we’re not putting harsh chemicals on our crops where we had to do years ago, so you’re producing a healthier plant, which produces better quality and a less chemical impact to our consumers, which is a big plus in what we’re trying to achieve.”

Hort360 is an important tool for achieving best management practice in the horticultural industry.

It’s a program endorsed by Taste ‘n’ See, where the relationship between good on-farm practices and environmental factors such as reduced run-off and improved water quality are strongly recognised.

Growcom’s Hort360 program, the best management practice program for horticulture, is designed to give growers a 360 degree view of their farm business operations, identifying potential risks, capitalising on business opportunities and highlighting unnecessary farm expenses.

The soil management and water quality modules are currently being delivered in south east Queensland and all horticultural growers in the Lockyer, Bremer, mid-Brisbane or Pumicestone sub-catchments are invited to take part in identifying areas of high risk in soil and water quality management. As part of this process a free property map will be provided.