It has been a tough few months for Queensland fruit and vegetable growers; the recent detection of Fall Armyworm in many growing regions has compounded the labour shortfall and drought issues that continue to impact the industry.

To help growers make better decisions regarding Fall Armyworm and other pests and diseases, peak industry body for Queensland horticulture, Growcom is running practical workshops in Gympie, Yeppoon, and Mackay this month.

Workshops will cover a range of topics including:

  • use of beneficial insects as a part of a wider pest management program
  • developments in technology to improve the accuracy of infield detection
  • developing or updating biosecurity plans
  • best management practice in pesticide use and biosecurity, and
  • technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of beneficial insect releases.

Guest presenters include Callum Fletcher from AUSVEG, Nancy Schellhorn from RapidAIM, and Paul Jones from Bugs for Bugs.

Callum Fletcher is the National Biosecurity Coordinator for AUSVEG and has extensive insect taxonomy and plant pathology knowledge on a range of crop pests in cereals, potatoes, and vegetables. Callum will cover a number of current insect pest issues.

Nancy Schellhorn is a co-inventor and co-founder of RapidAIM Insect Sensing Technologies. RapidAIM technology offers a service to the agriculture industry of regional pest surveillance, crop border security, and pest forecasts. Previously, Nancy was a Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO, leading several national projects such as the ‘Area-wide management of Queensland Fruit Fly: Guidelines for SIT’.

Hort360GBR Facilitators based in Great Barrier Reef catchments are coordinating the workshop series and encourage vegetable growers, in particular, to take time out of their busy schedule to attend.

“This is a practical workshop to assist growers in being pest prepared, incorporating more beneficial insects and improving biosecurity practices into overall farm management,” Hort360 Facilitator for the Burnett Mary Michelle Haase said.

“We had excellent grower participation in our soils workshop series last year and are looking forward to being able to support growers to tackle their pest, virus, disease and biosecurity issues.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of the Queensland Government, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, and the Fitzroy Basin Association to be able to run these events in the Burnett-Mary and Burdekin regions.”

Also to be demonstrated at the workshops will be Hort360, the best management practice program designed for the horticulture industry. This online tool allows producers to benchmark their farming and business practices and gives growers a bird’s eye view of their farm, their practices and potential efficiencies.

“Growcom recently launched the Hort360 Reef Certification program so that growers in Great Barrier Reef catchments can become accredited for gaining business efficiencies, and demonstrating sustainability and environmental stewardship,” Hort360 Program Manager, Scott Wallace said.

“We are currently working with 58 growers to use the tool and potentially be certified in the program.”

Registration is essential, as there will be special provisions in place to accommodate social distancing and hygiene requirements due to COVID-19.

Pest Aware, Pest Prepared workshops will be held in March in the following location:

  • Gympie – 10:00am – 2:30pm, Wednesday 17 March
  • Mackay – 9:30am – 3:30pm, Monday 22 March
  • Yeppoon – 2pm – 6pm, Friday 26 March

To register visit www.growcom.com.au/events or contact Hort360 Facilitator Eilis Walker on 0477 411 464 or email ewalker@growcom.com.au

The Pest Aware, Pest Prepared series is an initiative of Growcom’s Hort360GBR program, which is funded through the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.