Plant health top tips - August: Time to start pre-season planning: Consider your IPM strategies for managing pests and beneficials

With the 2020-21 season approaching, now's the time to be undertaking preseason planning to reflect and consider strategies on how to manage pests and beneficials.

Integrated pest management (IPM) uses knowledge of pest biology, behaviour and ecology to implement a range of integrated tactics to supress and reduce pest outbreaks and reliance on insecticides for their management. IPM supports the long-term management of pests, maintains profitability, reduces the risk of insecticide resistance and minimises risks to human health and the environment.

At the heart of IPM is the conservation of natural enemies. A key tactic in conserving natural enemies is making well-informed and rational pest management decisions supported by good sampling, valid control thresholds and knowledge of beneficial pests present in your crop. Well-informed and rational IPM decisions provide the best opportunity to reduce the overall need to spray, and hence help conserve beneficial species such as predatory insects, spiders, bats and birds.

So what are some of the ways to plan for next season’s pest management strategies?

1. Review last season’s IPM approach. An important step in developing your IPM strategy is to review last season’s pest management tactics. This enables the opportunity to review the pest problems you faced, what control tactics helped manage pest populations and what you would have changed.

2. Communicate your IPM goals. Sit down with your consultant and discuss your IPM and crop goals for the season.

  • Do you have any yield targets?
  • What level of damage is tolerated?
  • Has insecticide choice has a large impact on your IPM strategy throughout the season? 
  • What impact does your product choice have on beneficials and bees?
  • How well do you know your enemy? Knowing the biology, behaviour and ecology of your pests and beneficials allows you to make informed pest management decisions.

3. Get the latest guides and IPM related information. Keep an eye on the mailbox this month as the 2020-21 Cotton Pest Management Guide is released alongside the spring edition of CRDC's Spotlight Magazine. This Guide is the Australian cotton industry’s premium resource for insect, disease and weed information – and continues to build on the wealth of industry knowledge, incorporating the latest research updates. This publication contains tables on the impact of insecticides on beneficials and bees and other information that will assist growers and consultants with making informed pest management decisions.

To receive this publication as well as the latest pest sampling, threshold and management research updates, sign up to the CottonInfo mailing list.

This blog is part of a year long program from CottonInfo, with the themes aligned with the 2020 CottonInfo cotton calendar and the UN's International Year of Plant Health. For more information, view the calendar, or contact the CottonInfo Technical Lead for Biosecurity, Sharna Holman