New research to manage pests in macadamia orchards

7 Mar 2017

A closue up of the weevil sitting on a piece of fruit

A pest resilient farming system is the focus of a new large research program aimed at applying Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies crucial for continuing market access, productivity and profitability for the macadamia industry.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) leads the largest component of the Horticulture Innovation Australia co-funded program, and project leader Mark Hickey said pest management strategies in the past have been developed for a single pest species; however this project aims to deliver an effective IPM program for a variety of pests found in macadamia orchards.

“The aim of the project is to effectively use IPM to manage insect and mite pests across a macadamia orchard, to continue research on current key pests, maintain and build capability to respond and deal with new and emerging pests and to maintain and improve industry resources in pest diagnostics and IPM tools,” Mr Hickey said.

“We aim to develop an integrated and sustainable management approach for the macadamia industry to adopt for better pest management.

“The NSW DPI team based at Wollongbar and Alstonville will take on major components of the research program including ecology studies, field trial testing combinations of management tools, insect identification and extension of research.”

Throughout the project NSW DPI will collaborate with researchers working on specific components of the IPM program from the University of Southern Queensland, University of the Sunshine Coast, Southern Cross University, IPM Technologies and BioResources, as well as pest consultants and industry stakeholders, and QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will be coming on board.

Mr Hickey said the research will involve undertaking field and laboratory studies on the basic life-cycle, ecology and biology of a number of key pests such as Sigastus weevil, and fruitspotting bugs that can significantly impact on the productivity of macadamias in Australia.

“Researchers will also undertake, assess and refine field trials of whole of orchard IPM, using best practice from previous and current research and development,” Mr Hickey said.

“As part of the research DPI will maintain laboratory colonies of selected pests and biological control agents to be utilised in laboratory and field trials.

“The project will provide the opportunity to collect and assess baseline and end of project data on pest management practices and the impact of crop loss and crop quality due to insect damage.”

This project has been funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the research and development macadamia levy and funds from the Australian Government.

Media contact: Anne Brook (02) 6763 1163 or 0477 358 305