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Resources: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the IPMG?

IPMG stands for Industry Pest Management Group. As the name suggests, we are a collaboratively funded industry research group. The IPMG conducts applied pest management research with much of our work focussed towards developing integrated pest management (IPM) as a sustainable industry standard. For futher information on who we are and our activities, please refer to our about us, research and members pages.

What is integrated pest management or IPM?

IPM involves the careful use of any available pest management techniques (not just pesticides) to discourage the development of pest populations above economically damaging levels. This generally involves an understanding of the pests biology and the ecosystem in which it exists. Pest control techniques should only be used when they economically justified and should be designed to reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment.

What is an example of an IPM technique currently used by industry?

Large populations of African Black Beetles (ABB) can damage and kill E. globulus seedlings in spring. Many insecticides have proved largely inneffective or uneconomical. Therefore the industry now identifies plantations with high ABB populations prior to planting. Seedlings destined for these plantations are protected using mesh netting to stop ABB damage. This pest management practice has resulted in the successful prevention of ABB related deaths without the use of chemical pesticides.

Does the IPMG encourage the use of pesticides?

No, chemical pesticides are generally expensive and uneconomical at the scale of plantations. Notheless, as in agriculture or in private gardens some pest or disease situations may occassionally necessitate the use of either chemical pesticides or biopesticides. Before pest control is applied, the IPMG recommends monitoring of pest or disease populations. Often biocontrol by predators or parasitoids and even changing weather conditions will naturally reduce pest or pathogen populations. Monitoring also allows growers to time their pest control to prevent pest populations reaching damaging levels or to coincide with the pests most susceptible stages.

What are biopesticides?

Biopesticides can refer to:
  1. naturally occurring/produced substances that control pests, ofetn extracted from plant, bacteria or fungi
  2. actual microorganisms that control pests, for example some bacteria or fungi (e.g. a fungus is used to control wingless grasshoppers populations in spring)

What is biocontrol?

Biological Control is defined as the reduction of pest populations by 'natural enemies'. Natural enemies of insect pests, also known as biological control agents; can include predators, parasitoids, and pathogens.

Biocontrol may simply involve monitoring of pests and waiting for 'enemies' to naturally reduce pest populations. Sometimes, however these biological control agents may not reduce pest populations fast enough or below economically significant levels. In these cases biocontrol may involve active human management. For example, augmentation (a type of biocontrol) involves the rearing of large number of pest enemies and their subsequent addition into the environment (e.g. crop field or plantation) in order ot reduce pest populations.

What pesticides are used by the plantation industry?

The number and type of pesticides used varies depending on the tree host affected and the pest or pathogen involved. Notably, however, all chemical pesticides used by the plantation industry are also used in agriculture for food production. That is, they are not any different to those already commonly in use in Australia. Many are also commonly found in hardware stores and supermarkets. All pesticides used by the Australian plantation forestry industry comply with and are under the same regulatory framework that applies to all chemical pesticide users in Australia. For further information refer to ‘Pesticides in Plantations - Summary Report'.

What quantity of pesticides are used in the plantation industry?

Use of pesticides by the plantation forestry industry is a minor component of the total use in Australia. In 2003/04, Plantation company use accounted for less than 1% of the total annual use of around $2.4 billion.
Furthermore, pesticide use in plantations is usually confined to the first two to three years of a plantation rotation (e.g. 8-15 years for E. globulus), after which application is generally only done if necessary in response to pest and disease outbreaks. In contrast, many agricultural crops tend to have a higher frequency of use with potentially multiple applications each year or for each crop.

I'm a private grower and not a member of the IPMG, can I report a pest or disease outbreak?

The IPMG encourages everyone to report any unhealthy or damaged tree stands with the following caveats:

  1. Only report significant outbreaks. Where more than 20% of trees in a stand are affected and showing notable symptoms such as; loss in tree vigour, yellowing of leaves, >50% defoliation or >50% of leaves showing severe spotting (>50 leaf area).
  2. If possible send samples or photos (do not send us parrots!!)

 


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