Buzzing Around the Region

This month our Sus Ag team were ‘busy bees’ hosting the Building a Buzz for Beneficial Bugs Field Walk and Insect ID Workshop event!

Building a Buzz for Beneficial Bugs is a State NRM funded project involving the promotion of beneficial insect biodiversity as an alternative to pesticide usage in Horticulture. With two demonstration sites in the Midwest Horticultural Region showcasing specific insect-attracting flowering plants sown adjacent to horticulture cash crops. 

45 people including horticulture growers, TAFE Students, horticulture industry people and community members joined us to visit the two demonstration sites and to learn about alternative pest management strategies. The first stop was at Sun City Produce where Bao Duy Nguyen and his family grow cucumbers, tomatoes and capsicums in growing tunnels. Bao described his efficient method of growing cucumbers and how he releases beneficial insects such as hoverflies to predate on aphids and other pest insects. These beneficial insects allow him to reduce his pesticide usage. He has become involved in this project by sowing insect attracting flowering plants inside the cucumber tunnel. These plants include marigold, corn flower and buckwheat. Professor Geoff Gurr from Charles Sturt University explained how these flowering plants provide shelter, nectar and pollen for the beneficial bugs to survive in that environment. Alternative source of prey is the other element beneficial bugs need to survive, making up the easy acronym to remember (SNAP). With the hope of planting these plants, it is expected that beneficial bugs will be encouraged to come into the system on their own, which means Bao will be able to eventually release less of them and save money.

The next stop was Chally Bridge Farm, where Jack Davoren grows cut flowers, vegetables and fruit. Jack talked about his efficient irrigation system and how he hasn’t used pesticides at all this year! His flowers provide the SNAP which encourages the local beneficial insects to hang around and keep aphids off his brassicas.(Please include the photos of the strawflowers in the middle of white cabbages to demonstrate this) We did find a Diamond Back Moth on one of the sticky traps however, which is a common pest of brassicas. We also enjoyed a beautiful lunch from Tarts and Co next to his everlasting patch.

The final stop was at Chapman Valley Fishing Park where Entomologist Elliot Howse (DPIRD) described the common pest insects found in horticulture systems and local gardens. He also demonstrated how to use the MyPestGuide Reporter App, which is a great tool for people to report and ID insects. David Knowles (Spineless Wonders) taught us all about the native beneficial insects in our region and showed us some amazing photos he’s taken of them. Elliot and David were also amazing at answering everyone’s ‘buggy questions’ during the Field Walks.

We finished the day off with a Greenhouse Tour at the CV Fishing Park and some delicious finger food.

A big thank you to everyone who attended! Also thank you to Kylie from Geraldton Coachlines, Bao Duy Nguyen, Jack Davoren, Geoff Gur, David Knowles, Elliot Howse and Leanne and Wayne from Chapman Valley Fishing Park. It was a fabulous day!

If you want to learn more about Geoff’s research on ‘boosting beneficials in your vegetable crop’ with Hort Innovation and Charles Sturt University read up on it here!

Anna Cornell – Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer

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