[ASC-media] Media release: Chemical use in greenhouses to be cut by half
joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au
joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au
Fri Oct 27 05:09:24 CEST 2006
NSW Department of Primary Industries
27 October 2006
CHEMICAL USE IN GREENHOUSES TO BE CUT BY HALF
Chemical use in many vegetable-producing greenhouses could be halved in
the next three years.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) research entomologist, Dr Leigh
Pilkington, says DPI scientists have identified a number of beneficial
insects and new reduced-risk chemicals in a new research project.
The project, funded by the horticulture industry, is now seeking to
accelerate the research to ensure growers gain access to the technology as
soon as possible.
Among the promising new biological control agents is an exotic ladybird Hippodamia variegata, noticed by Australian vegetable growers to be useful as a beneficial
A range of native species is also being assessed, including the thrips
predator Orius armatus, whitefly parasitoid Eretmocerus warrae and predatory brown lacewing Micromus tasmaniae.
Dr Leigh Pilkington said these and other targeted beneficial insects had
been identified as natural enemies of key pests such as thrips, aphids,
whiteflies and mites.
"We know they are useful as biocontrol agents, but we need to test how
effective they will be in managing pests in commercial-scale vegetable
Pests like western flower thrips, which attack a range of vegetables,
including lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and capsicum, are rapidly
developing resistance to conventional pesticides.
Dr Pilkington said "growers now have few chemical tools left to fight
In conjunction with commercial operators, the research will compare the
effectiveness of different beneficial insects, assess their tolerance to
different temperatures, work out appropriate use strategies and develop
New "softer" chemicals are also to be evaluated to ensure they do not
affect the effectiveness of the beneficial insects.
A key product currently under development is a new biopesticide based on
an insect-killing fungal disease that naturally occurs in Australia.
Dr Pilkington said "it's important that the right chemicals are used, at
the right time, which allows the beneficial insects to keep doing their
He said in the future, instead of conventional or synthetic pesticides,
new reduced-risk chemicals are likely to rely on novel pesticides such as
the fungal biopesticide that will infect the target pest and cause its
"The idea is to put biocontrol in the forefront of people's minds and to
retain conventional pesticides for when the industry really needs them."
Dr Pilkington said a range of activities designed to encourage greenhouse
vegetable growers to introduce IPM techniques are already underway.
"Meetings in the Sydney Basin where the community gathers at a farm have
been hugely successful, attracting up to 100 growers a day.
"It is evidence of the increasing acceptance of and enthusiasm for IPM,"
Demonstration farms have also been set up so that growers can see how IPM
works first hand, and are in the process of developing a web site on all
facets of IPM for greenhouse vegetable growers in Australia to access.
Dr Pilkington said he was indebted to the groundwork done by his Gosford
DPI research colleagues Stephen Goodwin and Marilyn Steiner, who are to
retire at the end of 2007, after years of dedicated research in this field
for the Australian greenhouse industry.
The project currently draws together a team of five entomologists and
technical staff, two PhD students, extension officers and DPI experts in
The research is being supported by vegetable growers through Horticulture
Contact: Dr Leigh Pilkington, Narara, (02) 4348 1953 or
leigh.pilkington at dpi.nsw.gov.au
Media inquiries: Joanne Finlay on (02) 6391 3171 or
joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au.
Science Communication Specialist
NSW DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES
Mobile: 0428 491813
Fax: 6391 3199
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