Using Integrated Pest Management to Protect Your Farm
Any farmer with grazing livestock knows that pastures play a key role in the farm’s success. An unhealthy pasture that doesn’t produce as much grass is a serious cause for concern. If your farm is failing to produce grass, the number of cattle or sheep you can rear will be limited. The productivity of your paddocks is perhaps the largest influence on your profitability as a grazier.
Pastures and Pests
It’s in a farmer’s best interests to do everything they can to protect their paddocks. While some threats like drought or flood are largely beyond our control, there are other issues which we can do something about. Pests present one of the most prevalent threats to the productivity of a pasture, but thankfully, there is work that can be done to reduce their impact. Pests come in all shapes and sizes, including vertebrates, weeds and diseases, but perhaps the most plaguing are invertebrates. Some of the more serious and common concerns throughout most of Australia include heliothis caterpillars, diamondback moths, aphids and wireworms.
People utilise different approaches when dealing with pests. Cultural, biological and chemical controls can be used to varying degrees of effectiveness, but perhaps the most successful means to managing pasture pests is integrated pest management.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) combines all of these methods into a single approach. By utilising cultural, biological and chemical elements collectively, some of the drawbacks of using a single one can be avoided.
- Cultural control is the non-chemical management of pests by use of mechanical and manual acts to change soil or crop environments to discourage pests taking hold.
- Biological control involves the use of predatory insects and mites (so-called ‘beneficial bugs’), to eliminate pests by feeding on them or disrupting their breeding cycle.
- Chemical control refers to the use of pesticides to stop insects from damaging the pasture.
The usual order of usage is as above, beginning with cultural. Some of the considerations you’d look at for cultural controls include site selection, irrigation or soil management. Following this, the focus moves to biological controls. Knowing about the nature of your pasture is critical as this will let you know which insects you want to encourage to keep around. Maximising the number of ‘beneficial bugs’ is the objective. A good integrated pest management strategy minimises the use of chemical pesticides. Keep in mind however, chemical control is unlikely to be excluded all together. The process needs to be researched and your pesticide selection will represent this. Choose a pesticide that has minimal effect on your beneficial insects while dealing effectively with your targets.
Avoiding the impacts of pasture pests is crucial to the success of a farm. Far too often the overuse or misplaced use of chemical solutions can have significant negative impacts. The successful implementation of integrated pasture management can avoid these negatives, especially those associated with chemical use. If you’re looking for more information on protecting your pastures, get in touch with the team at Steel Supplies Charters Towers.