Cropping

Insect tracking to safeguard farms

Grain Central, November 17, 2016

STAFF with NSW Central West Local Land Services have been undertaking monitoring at properties across the region in a bid to protect landholders against disease and risks that can cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

Safeguarding livestock against arboviruses and crops from heliocoverpa has been a major focus for some time in a bid to monitor livestock health risks and keep export trade open.

Land Services officer, Cameron Downing, said the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP) was undertaken in locations such as Coonamble, Narromine and Peak Hill.

Heliocoverpa tracking is also carried out in cotton-growing areas as heliothis is a major pest in cotton over summer and also attacks chickpea, canola and faba beans.

“The cost to farmers nationwide from heliothis alone is estimated between $100 million and $300 million per year, so it’s important that we keep on top of our monitoring activities,” Mr Downing said.

“The NAMP program monitors the distribution of economically important arboviruses, like three day sickness, akabane and bluetongue.

“It involves hanging a light trap over the summer months to trap insect vectors, as well as taking blood samples from sentinel cattle herds in the area.”

The program aims to facilitate market access for live exports to countries that have concerns about arboviruses, detect incursions of exotic strains of bluetongue virus and detect changes in the seasonal distribution of endemic viruses.

“This allows producers to make scientifically-based risk management decisions in their herd or flock,” Mr Downing said.

Heliocoverpa monitoring involves setting two traps on the edge of a susceptible crop 100 metres apart.

Each contains a pheromone lure targeting a specific species.

“Traps are checked weekly from August to the end of October and the number of Heliocoverpa punctigera and Heliocoverpa amigera are recorded,” Mr Downing said.

“Heliocoverpa (heliothis) are a major pest in cotton over summer and also attack chickpea, canola and faba beans and can cost farmers nationwide between $100 million and $300 million per annum.”

Trap counts can be seen on the Beat Sheet website: http://thebeatsheet.com.au

Source: Local Land Services

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