Home' Grower : March 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- March 2011
By TONY BURFORD,
Sunstainabe Farming Services
THE native Australian Orius
bug has delivered fully on
the promise made last season
-- after an encouraging trial -- that
it would beat western flower
In a high-tech hydroponic cap-
sicum crop this year, planted in
September, thrips and virus were
controlled until early February.
Up to this point, less than 100
plants out of 40,000 had been lost
to tomato spotted wilt virus in
about six months.
After two disastrous years bat-
tling the pest, the grower is again
making some real money.
Once again, other pests were
very well controlled with the orig-
inal releases of various natural ene-
mies from commercial 'good' bug
breeders -- Biological Ser vices at
Loxton and Orius, from Manchil,
in Western Australia.
A persistent outbreak of broad
mite in one plant variety, near the
greenhouse door way, required
additional releases of predatory
There were also numerous 'free'
natural enemies entering the crop
again and helping with pest con-
One very important lesson with
biological control is that growers
need to ensure they do not allow
pests to build up too much before
introducing the natural enemies,
making their job too hard. This
may require initial and minimal
use of compatible pesticides to
hold down pest levels in the early
This is not only true for thrips,
but also whitefly, aphids and
mites. Grubs can always be con-
trolled with Bacillus Thuringiensis
toxin and similar products that use
a virus to attack the pest, without
upsetting the natural enemies.
Spraying is not an answer to pest
control problems, but can be a
support when soft chemicals are
required while the beneficials are
A typical example of this is using
spot spraying with pirimicarb (eg,
Pirimor) to control early aphid
outbreaks until the parasitic wasps
that control aphids can build up.
Biological control has its chal-
lenges that need to be managed at
ever y stage of the crop.
This was demonstrated again this
year when we attempted to imple-
ment biological control of thrips
in a soil capsicum crop on the
Unfortunately, there was a gap in
our planning. Instead of raising
the seedlings on farm, they were
purchased from a nursery without
checking the nurseries pesticide
When natural enemies were
introduced to the young plants,
none of them established. We
realised the seedlings might have
a long-term systemic pesticide and
this was indeed confirmed to be
As with the hydroponic crop last
year, biological control is worth
Tony Burfield says pests were very well controlled with the original
releases of various natural enemies from commercial 'good' bug
GROWERS at Virginia wishing to ensure pest
and disease control should:
•Avoid the build up of weeds on their
properties and do not leave old and dying
crops unattended to spread pests and virus. It
has become very clear during the past two
years that without fumigation of the whole
greenhouse -- not just the dripper lines -- the
soil holds thrips pupae for many months,
often resulting in severe damage to young
plants in poly and glasshouses that have
previously had a heavy thrip and virus
infection. Now that qualified fumigation
services are more difficult to obtain, growers
need to be very aware of this threat.
•Remove all crop waste from properties as
soon as it is pulled out, or at least put it in a
bin or bury it. Unless the waste is disease-
free, chopping in can have its own risks with
some plant viruses and root diseases
surviving in the old plant material in the soil.
But if the soil is reasonably moist and has
good levels of organic carbon, breakdown of
plant waste is much more efficient and may
help to reduce disease levels. Crop rotation is
also a very good strategy.
Growers and crop consultants who have
visited the trial site recognise that what can
be achieved in Virginia is a very significant
demonstration of the power of biological
control in such a close-packed farming area
where pests are continually abundant.
We feel that it has been demonstrated that
biological control is a viable, commercial
More information about these biological
control trials will be delivered later this year at
grower workshops and on a DVD.
Hopefully, by then a third set of trials will be
under way involving hydroponic soil crops that
demonstrate a truly effective biological pest
control program in capsicums for adoption by
the rest of protected cropping industry.
Details: 0401 120 875.
Take full control
of pests, disease
Virginia wins battle to
isolate thrips and virus
another go in soil crops.
If any growers are interested in
moving toward this option, two
additional strategies would be
•Use plenty of compost to build
up the organic carbon in the soil.
This helps to support predatory
mites and beneficial fungi that can
attack the thrips pupae falling to
the soil during part of their life-
cycle, as well as making the plants
•Plant narrow strips of selected
native vegetation in available space
around the property as recom-
mended by SARDI from the
Revegetation by Design research
(I can supply a free booklet
about these plants).
This can be used to suppress
weeds that host thrips and virus
and is also likely to support more
natural enemies to attack pests.
Details: Tony Burfield
email@example.com or 0401 120
James Altmann (Biological Services)
Ph: 8584 6977
Lachlan Chilman (Manchil Services)
0403 727 252
Farming the Future
Biological Solutions One-Day Workshop - Adelaide, SA
Date: Tuesday 12th April 2011
Time: 8.30am - 5.00pm
Location: Roseworthy Campus, Mudla Wirra Rd, Roseworthy Campus, Adelaide SA 5005
Cost: $50.00 pp - Morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and tea/co ee provided. Note: No refunds will be given for cancellations two
weeks prior to the seminar to cover for prearranged catering charges.
Registration: Bookings are essential and numbers are limited. Please register your interest to NTS. Ph: (07) 5472 9900 or www.nutri-
tech.com.au (for registration form).
Cutting-Edge Strategies to Build Pro tability While Reducing Reliance Upon Chemicals
This intensive, one day workshop is presented by Graeme Sait, a world leader in biological agricul-
ture and the multiple bene ts linked to this approach.
In the face of the twin spectres of climate change and peak oil, biological farming is the undeniable
shape of the future and the most successful growers in every country are rapidly recognising this
Now is your chance to boost your growing skills and to increase your understanding of the new
agriculture. This course o ers insights into the following:
• The secrets of building soil carbon (for which you will soon be paid)
• The multiple bene ts of mineral balancing
• Reducing reliance upon increasingly expensive petrochemicals
• Gaining the biggest bang for your buck in broadacre and horticulture
• Managing pests and disease with biology and nutrition
• The importance of soil life and their critical role in your bottom line pro tability
• An understanding of humates, the most exciting input in a holistic approach
• Foliar feeding, seed treatment, microbe brewing, sustainable herbiciding and other key
Author/educator, Graeme Sait, is CEO of Nutri-Tech Solutions (NTS), Australia's largest biological
fertiliser exporter. NTS work in over 40 countries and have trained thousands of farmers around the
globe. The NTS Certi cate In Sustainable Agriculture has become a prerequisite for farmers and
consultants seeking a secure future. Graeme has written over 400 published articles and he has
authored an internationally acclaimed book entitled "Nutrition Rules!" He is a sought after nutrition
expert at conferences around the globe and his passionate presentations are often described as "life
changing". Don't miss this opportunity to make the coming changes positive!
Increase E ciency &
Soil Biology & Microbe
Reduce Reliance on
Magnify Fertiliser Inputs
Course is heavily subsidised by NTS in the absence of FarmReady reimbursements until July 2011.
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