Department of Agriculture and Food crop protection staff recently provided training on the identification of pests and diseases of broadacre crops in the field as part of a new project to upskill growers and agribusiness consultants.
The project is co-funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Department senior research officer Dominie Wright said the recent three-day course helped 30 participants understand more about the impact of insect pests and beneficial insects in crops, and the identification of pests and common diseases in crops in Western Australia.
“For the first time, two separate courses were provided consecutively to better skill participants including department staff and independent agronomists in whole-farm pest and disease identification,” Ms Wright said.
“The course equipped participants to identify common pests and diseases in the field, allowing them to make better decisions about their control, including the most effective use of chemical control options.”
Insect identification techniques were covered by department senior technical officer Peter Mangano and colleagues who provided participants with practical skills in the identification of common broadacre cropping pests, including different species of mites which can easily be confused.
The role of beneficial insects and importance of monitoring procedures were also covered.
Ms Wright facilitated plant disease identification training with the support of department colleagues, focusing on leaf diseases of wheat and barley and visually identifying them in the field, as well as introducing participants to approaches for identification of root disease in the paddock.
The response to the courses was strong and as a result, the maximum number of course participants was increased from the usual limit of 20 to 30.
“Further courses will be delivered to meet demand from agribusiness. This has already started with a course to be delivered specifically for an agronomy company and a separate course to be provided in October for biosecurity officers in Western Australia,” Ms Wright said.
“Additional pest and disease identification training can be provided for grower and agronomist groups by arrangement with the department.”
All course participants provided positive feedback, particularly about the opportunity to learn using live samples and hands-on practical training.
Media contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937