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Back to where it all began: Tarlee forum to discuss future management of Russian wheat aphid

Management of Russian wheat aphid (RWA) in local farming systems and beyond will be discussed at a special forum February 2017 in Tarlee – where the pest was detected for the first time in Australia in 2016.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has organised the interactive forum which will focus on key learnings from 2016 and future pest management implications for growers and advisers.

The forum on February 10 will feature one of the world’s leading RWA research authorities, Frank Peairs, who is Professor of Entomology in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University in the United States.

In addition, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) principal entomologist Greg Baker and Maarten van Helden, a visiting French scientist who has been assisting SARDI with RWA research activities, will provide local insights into what has been learnt regarding pest behaviour and population dynamics since RWA was first detected in May 2016.

GRDC Southern Regional Manager Grower Services, Craig Ruchs, says the forum will encourage open, two-way dialogue between the research sector and growers and their advisers who will have the opportunity to share their valuable observations and experiences of dealing with RWA for the first time.

“As an industry, we have learnt so much about RWA in the short period of time since the pest was identified in May 2016. Coming together in Tarlee to discuss what was observed in-paddock in 2016 will contribute even further to collaborative industry learnings regarding pest behaviour and control under local conditions.”

Although the forum will be informal in nature, Mr Ruchs says it will serve as an important platform in continuing to communicate and shape future RWA research, development and extension (RD&E) activities and management approaches.

In 2016, RWA quickly became relatively widespread across SA and Victorian grain-growing areas. It has also been detected in southern New South Wales and more recently Tasmania.

The GRDC, its research partners and other agencies have learnt a significant amount since the transition to a management approach, instigating extensive research activities to develop an improved understanding of the pest’s biology, population dynamics and behaviour under Australian conditions and to explore specific control options.

“The forum at Tarlee will be an opportunity to provide an update on some of those RD&E efforts,” Mr Ruchs says.

“It will also be a unique and valuable chance for growers and advisers to direct questions to experts who will be offering their insights at the event.”

Also attending the forum will be Belinda Rawnsley from AgXtra (formerly Peracto SA), who will present the most recent results from GRDC-funded trials on the comparative efficacy of foliar-applied insecticides for RWA control, as well as Mr Ruchs and GRDC General Manager Crop Protection, Ken Young.

The GRDC is hosting two additional RWA-specific question and answer sessions to co-incide with Dr Peairs’ visit to Australia. These will be at Corowa in NSW on February 16 and Rupanyup in Victoria on February 23 (both sessions following on from GRDC Grains Research Updates in those locations).

Dr Peairs is visiting as a guest speaker at a number of GRDC Grains Research Updates across SA, Victoria and NSW.

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