Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) research to understand and harness the power of native vegetation and beneficial insects to control pests and disease in agriculture was highlighted at a workshop in Orange on Monday 9 December.
The University is a leader in applied ecology research and scientists from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and National Wine and Grape Industry Centre shared their work with colleagues, stakeholders and invited guests.
Professor Geoff Gurr from the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences has examined ecological tactics to reduce losses in a variety of crops from rice, to cotton, vegetables and pine plantations.
He said there’s great potential for Australian agriculture to adopt integrated pest and disease management but it’s important to look at the whole ecosystem.
“Improving environmental sustainability and increasing productivity are two key issues for Australian agricultural systems,” Professor Gurr said.
“Our research has shown that native vegetation planted or retained near crops can enhance the activity of beneficial insects to help control pests and reduce reliance on chemical control methods.
“Other projects are examining plants’ natural defence mechanisms and the ecosystem benefits delivered by insects which include pollination, nutrient cycling.”
Key topics for discussion at the workshop included: habitat management for regenerative agriculture and for pest control in vegetable crops; grower attitudes to pest control; using native plants to deliver multiple ecosystem benefits; phylloxera in vineyards; and the ecosystem benefits of dung beetles.
On Monday night the public was invited to a public lecture, ‘Sex, drugs, and pest control’ by two leading ecologists, Professor John Pickett from Cardiff University and Professor Phil Stevenson from the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom.