The South Australian Research Development Institute’s (SARDI) entomology group is focusing on improving the management of snails and slugs.
According to the media release issued by Minister Gail Gago, the integrated pest management strategies for snail control are part of the new three-year Grains Research and Development Corporation project: Improving management of Snails and Slugs.
Ms Gago welcomed Dr Michael Nash to SARDI and revealed that the $1.3 million project is aimed at discovering new ways of dealing with the pests.
“This project, along with Dr Nash’s skills, will provide South Australian growers with improved snail management practices and develop new options for snail management in grains. After several wet years, and the trend towards no-till and stubble retention, snails and slugs continue to be a problem in South Australia,” said Ms Gago.
“Figures suggest expenditure on these pests has more than doubled from $6 million in 2007-08 to around $16 million in 2011-12. Since the drought ended, we’ve looked at adding other controls to the management of snails and slugs, such as increasing the efficacy of baiting and bait size, new control products, cultural control tools, improved farming practices and non-chemical intervention such as beneficial pests of snails.”
According to entomology leader Greg Baker pin-pointing the origins of the four common snail species in South Australia might be the first step in identifying native natural enemies, such as parasitoid flies.
“The entomology group are also researching other common pests in grain and broadacre crops, including Diamondback moth, Mandalotus weevil, and had expertise in a range of other pests including Portuguese millipedes, Etiella, and fruit fly,” Mr Baker said.
“We have the capacity to respond quickly to biosecurity threats on many fronts – from viticulture and horticulture to cultural, chemical and biological aspects of integrated pest management in grain crops.”
Cultivation and burning are also needed to reduce large, established populations along with standard chemical pest control.
Finding suitable solutions to deal with pests and diseases is of the utmost importance as invertebrate pests cost up to $360 million, while diseases chip off $1.4 billion of the total annual worth of the Australian grains industry.