With growers focusing on a more holistic approach to planting, they are increasingly looking to the benefits of using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme for their horticultural crops.
Kevin Manning, Fruitfed Supplies Research and Development (R&D) Manager, says “Integrated Pest Management programmes are now widely used in horticulture having followed the lead of the apple industry, which is the most advanced in terms of the scale and practice in New Zealand.”
Fruitfed Supplies’ technical knowledge and expertise means the team is at the forefront of this approach. “As a business we assist growers with their Integrated Pest Management programmes through a number of touch points: our Technical Horticultural Representatives, R&D Technical Specialists and Crop Monitoring Scouts,” says Kevin.
IPM uses a combination of controls and strategies aimed at reducing yield losses in a crop¹. Regular crop monitoring and pest and disease control, including the use of targeted pesticides, help deliver a more sustainable way of managing a crop¹.
There are three main components of IPM: prevention, decision tools and intervention¹. Falling within prevention are cultural controls, designed to minimise the use of chemical applications to control insect pests, diseases and weeds in crops¹.
As Daniel Sutton, Fruitfed Supplies Vegetable Technical Specialist explains, “cultural controls encompass a whole management practice around planting crops. A grower, in consultation with a Technical Horticultural Representative, will consider the following: whether to plant at peak pest pressure or try to plant earlier? Do you irrigate at a slightly different time to boost crop growth and avoid favourable soil conditions for an insect pest? Do you use a mulching product to protect the soil and act as a physical barrier between insects and what they’re trying to feed on?”
Daniel continues saying it is valuable to consider utilising resistant varieties to prevent disease or pest infestations while crop rotation can help prevent the build-up of a pest population.
A grower can also employ biological controls; using a pest insect’s natural enemies to help reduce pressure in a crop. “For insects this is predatory or beneficial insects: parasitoid wasps, lacewings, ladybirds and hoverflies,” says Daniel. “There are also beneficial fungi and bacteria that can help control insect pests.”
To take advantage of using biological controls within a crop, Daniel emphasises, a grower needs to recognise a certain amount of pest pressure is needed in a crop so beneficial insects have a food source and stay feeding, allowing them to provide the level of control needed to help protect the crop.
The second component of IPM is decision tools, with crop monitoring at its core. Information gathered by scouts provides accurate data on pest pressure within a crop, allowing a grower to respond accordingly, depending on the pressure recorded.
Fruitfed Supplies’ Crop Monitoring has a strong presence countrywide with eight teams located within the major horticultural growing regions. Scouts are in the field monitoring for pest and beneficial insects, disease and weed pressure.
Monitoring can be supplemented with trapping to further help with assessing pest pressure. As Daniel says, “pheromone traps offer a standardised way of allowing scouts to monitor the levels of different moth species for a range of crops, with codling moth in pipfruit being a major pest.”
The Crop Monitoring team stores and records growers’ monitoring data in software which provides digital reports so a grower can easily assess their pest levels compared to industry thresholds. The data can also be used for historical comparisons and to view trends over time.
The third component of IPM is intervention, featuring a selection of plant protection solutions including either an agrochemical, biological or organically certified product. Your local Technical Horticultural Representative is able to assist with product choices, understanding a product’s compatibility within an IPM programme and ensuring, for example, beneficial insects are unharmed and the plant is left with no harmful residues. Choosing the correct mode of action will help prevent resistance developing.
The team at Fruitfed Supplies are specialists in horticultural crops, possessing a strong knowledge of IPM. To discuss IPM and how to utilise its benefits to produce a healthy crop sustainably, contact your local Technical Horticultural Representative.
¹ Walker M, Davidson M, Wright P. (2019). Generic IPM Guideline for Vegetable Crops. Retrieved from http://www.processvegetables.co.nz/assets/Uploads/VR+I-IPM-Guidelines-WEB-SP3.pdf.