A grower field day was hosted by Onions New Zealand in Pukekohe in December to look at several trials in the Onions Pathway Project.
Around 100 growers, industry and supplier representatives attended the field day which included a presentation from Fruitfed Supplies on our work on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices for the onion industry.
This is a continuation of the work we did last year, looking to demonstrate an Australian concept developed by Dr. Paul Horne from IPM Technologies for the New Zealand onion market, involving the application of a compostable material between onion beds to provide food, moisture and shelter for insects including beneficial predatory species.
This year, thanks to funding from Onions New Zealand, this work has enabled a greater understanding of the beneficial insects which help control onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) and how they can be utilised effectively. Beneficial insects include rove beetles (Calodera sp.), centipedes (Lithobius forticatus) and predatory mites (Parasitus fimetorum and Androlaelaps casalis).
Field day attendees also viewed trials run by Rob Cox from In-Depth Agronomy with support from Plant and Food and Staphyt Research to assess alternatives to mancozeb. One trial is set up as a ‘drag race’ assessing downy mildew control offered by alternative fungicide, biostimulant and fertiliser products. Another trial has three parts: one utilising mancozeb for the whole season, one where mancozeb use stops halfway through the crop, and the third using no mancozeb for the whole season. The trial site was under high pressure from downy mildew so we expect some interesting results from this work.
The vision of the Onions Pathways is to grow New Zealand onions position in the global market. Aligned research will help growers reduce agrichemical residues in onions and increase the sustainability of onion production. This is year one of three where Fruitfed Supplies and In-Depth Agronomy received funding to contribute to this research, demonstrating the Fruitfed Supplies teams passion to work alongside growers to tackle these issues.