Crop protection at your fingertips

The introduction of high-tech tools and automated surveillance is set to transform grain crop protection this coming season, detecting and diagnosing pests and diseases.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development officer Dusty Severtson said the free CropScout app would allow growers to tailor their crop protection regimes, with automated moth traps and a rapid diagnosis tool for Turnip yellows virus.

“Crop protection has become very challenging for growers, monitoring increasingly large properties, outlaying high costs for some insecticides and managing the risk of chemical resistance,” he said.

“These tools will provide better field intelligence to assist growers to take action to control pests and diseases when and where it’s needed.”

The app, first released last year, is being expanded and will begin operating by spring 2018.

With more than 300 downloads since August last year, the department said the app had been well received.

Trials of automated moth traps will continue throughout 2018, with the data collected available via the department’s PestFax e-publication.

According to Development officer Christiaan Valentine, the traps will act to enhance the department’s manual trapping network and provide detailed information to growers.

“The commercial Z-Trap and Trapview devices all performed well in 2017 and we intend to test two department prototypes in the field this year,” he said.

“These automated devices will improve monitoring and provide an early warning system to growers, alerting them to when the moths commence migration flights from the pastoral region to the agricultural region.”

Dr Severtson urged growers to utilise the assistance available through the department’s new tools and to equip themselves prior to the start of the upcoming grain growing season.

“These tools are all about managing risk and using creative field information to drive decision making,” he said.

“Rapid and accurate monitoring and surveillance is imperative, both at a paddock and a regional scale, to enable growers to play their part in protecting both their crops and the industry from the impact and cost of pests and diseases.”

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The CropScout app is compatible with Android and iOS devices.