Integrated pest management workshops demonstrate use of biological controls to grow marketable crops

2 April 2024

Vegetables NZ and A Lighter Touch’s second set of integrated pest management workshops have demonstrated how a marketable crop can be grown using biological controls.

‘Again, this time with broccoli, we’ve demonstrated to growers and crop advisers how a marketable crop can be grown using integrated pest management techniques, involving increased monitoring and evaluation of a wider set of pest and disease management tools,’ says Vegetables NZ research, development and extension manager, Daniel Sutton.

‘The spray programme was 60 percent biologicals. We only used synthetics towards the end to protect the broccoli heads and ensure we had a marketable crop.’

Daniel says he deliberately selected a brassica crop to put it under pressure from caterpillars at this time of year.

‘We were able to take greater risks with the crop than would be normal for standard commercial production because this is a demonstration farm.

‘Monitoring started from the time of planting in early February. We had caterpillars in the field for the entire time. We used biological products to keep the caterpillars manageable, without having to resort to hard chemical interventions each week.’

‘This encouraged a lot of interesting discussion around the effectiveness of combining beneficial insects and soft biological insecticides, even for challenging insect pests at a high-pressure time of the season.’  

Daniel says another key area for discussion was around resistance management.

‘Diamond back moth is known globally as a pest insect that develops resistance to insecticides quickly. New Zealand has an effective resistance management strategy, which formed the backbone of the control strategy utilised during the workshops.’   

The workshops were extremely well received. Content was tailored to all levels - beginners to advanced - especially the scientific background, implementation and understanding of integrated pest management.

‘It was great to have the different experts at the research site,’ says LeaderBrand general manager South Island, Mike Arnold, who participated online. 

‘With their knowledge, the experts were able to bring practical application to the workshops. As a result, my colleagues and I feel well equipped and more confident to continue advancing integrated pest management in our growing practices. Also, by being able to participate “live” with questions and answers, I felt completely part of all the workshops.’   

The workshops on average were attended by 30 people – roughly half in person and the other half online. 

The workshops took place at the Pukekohe demonstration farm hosted by Balle Brothers. The workshops were also supported by Plant and Food Research. They followed a similar format to the first set of workshops, which were on lettuce.

Integrated pest management is a way to reduce the use of agrichemicals by using biologicals and beneficial insects. More workshops are planned for later in the year.