While many gardeners and producers spend a lot of time trying to get rid of the army of endless bug invaders intent on helping themselves to tasty crops, fighting fire with fire can prove to be a helpful approach!
Beneficial insects, such as hoverflies, ladybirds, spiders and lacewings, can help in the control of a range of unwelcome pests of crops and orchards – such as cherry aphids and light brown apple moth. But how do you entice such a useful crack team? Building a farm insectary, through planting selected native plants and shrubs, is a great way of boosting the number of beneficial insects on a property – not to mention improving overall biodiversity across the landscape.
At a recent workshop in Kempton organised by NRM South, 22 farmers learned tips and tricks for creating on-farm insectaries and why it’s a valuable addition to productive landscapes.
Insectary expert Karen Thomas joined Andrew Hall from Reid Fruits in leading the workshop and sharing their extensive knowledge and experience on pest management. Some of the workshop’s key messages included; considering what insects need to have access to across all seasons, where to locate insectaries (recommended to be on plots at least 30 metres from crops), natural variations in the populations of beneficial and pest insects year to year, plant selection (flowering shrubs are generally more effective than native trees) and that increased plant diversity generally means more beneficial insects over the long term.
For more information about the workshop and the benefits of Integrated Pest Management, have a listen to this ABC Country Hour interview with workshop leader Karen Thomas (interview starts at the 1:00 mark) – followed on by an interesting interview with Geoff Gurr from Charles Sturt University about a nationwide pest management research project with vegetable farmers.