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Australian macadamia crops:

Boosting beneficial insects & biodiversity key to controlling pests

For the past five years the Macadamia Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program has tested combinations of biological, cultural, and chemical controls in on-farm trials in New South Wales and Queensland orchards. Now, the research into better protecting macadamia orchards from pests is beginning to bear fruit.

NSW Department of Primary Industries entomologist Dr Ruth Huwer said it has found a suite of tools needs to be used on-farm to control pests: "Monitoring is the most important tool that we need to look at in IPM, we need to know what pests are around and when they're around. Timing is crucial," she said. Also, good coverage is crucial and that's where cultural control comes in, opening up your canopy and also increasing your biodiversity with different inter-rows. We want to reduce the input of broad-spectrum insecticide. But not saying that they cannot be used at all, they're just meant to be a last resort."

Researchers are one year into a small-scale trial on inter-row cropping at the Centre for Tropical Horticulture at Alstonville, planting native shrubs and flowering plants to increase the number of natural enemies. Dr Huwer said it was too early to draw any conclusions from the yield data obtained.  "It definitely is beneficial, but we need to know whether that also has an impact on your quality and yield at the end," she told abc.net.au.


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