Soil Wealth ICP team members Dr Doris Blaesing and Camilla Humphries will be working with integrated pest management (IPM) specialist contractor Jessica Bamford in South Australia’s Northern Adelaide Plains to set up two IPM insectary sites.

The focus is to attract predators of specific, difficult-to-control pests by either a cover crop in an open field situation or a perennial, native insectarium at a protected cropping farm. In both cases the aim is to provide hosts for predatory and beneficial insects to reduce pest pressure.

Protected cropping site 

The native insectary trial will be run at a farm in Virgina which grows greenhouse capsicums. The aim is to attract predators of greenhouse vegetable crop pests including whitefly, aphids and heliothis, thus reducing chemical inputs and improving IPM outcomes.

Pictured above: A greenhouse capsicum crop at Virginia (September 2023). Image: Doris Blaesing.

Open field site 

The second site will be at Musolino Farms in a brassica farming system. It will showcase the use of cover crops, typically used to improve soil health, ahead of successive plantings of broccoli. The concept is that these ‘rolling cover crop strips’ will host beneficials that lose their ‘home’ once a broccoli crop is harvested.

The first step is to identify which cover crops are most suitable for hosting predatory insects to manage key pests including diamondback moth (DBM) and cabbage white butterfly. The first cover crop will include buckwheat and crimson clover. Further cover crops will be tested for winter months and coming years. The seed for the cover crop has been kindly donated by AGF Seeds.

The Soil Wealth ICP team will be working with South Australian industry service providers including agronomist Paul Pezzantini from Platinum Agricultural Services, VegNET Regional Development Officer Peta Coughlin and Bugs for Bugs IPM specialist Steven Coventry on the demo sites.

Doris will also present at the SA Spring Field Production Growers Day on Thursday 26 October which will focus on IPM and precision spray application, pest and disease control, biosecurity and on-farm agtech.