How to protect your farm from pests and disease
It’s a hot day in March, and the temperature is hovering around -10C.
In the far corner of the country, a group of farmers is in the midst of a project to combat one of the world’s biggest threats to the agricultural sector.
The project is called “Ace, the Butterfly”, and the team is comprised of farmers, gardeners, forestry workers, forestry experts and ecologists.
They’re building a system that can detect and reduce the number of caterpillars that are entering the landscape.
“The project has two parts.
First, it has to be able to detect and monitor the number and type of caterpillar that enters your farm,” says Dan Hargreaves, a researcher at the National University of Australia who helped oversee the project.
“The second part is to determine how to remove the caterpillar and what to do with it.”
The research team hopes to create a system capable of detecting and preventing the emergence of caterbugs, and then removing them.
It’s a project that’s not just about spraying pesticides and spraying herbicides, but also about identifying the pests and removing them, said the team’s founder, Dr Matt De Vries, a research scientist with the National Institute of Agricultural Research.
“It’s about taking information and developing the ability to apply it effectively in the field,” he said.
“Caterpillars are incredibly invasive insects.
They are a really bad thing in a lot of places, especially in Australia where they’re extremely invasive.”
The team hopes the system will help control caterpillards and help farmers identify and eliminate them.
The first caterpillar to emerge on the farm was a caterpillar called Pteropus trichogaster.
It was introduced in late June to a farm near Perth.
“What happened was we just got a lot more caterpillaries, and as the number grew we had to make sure we got the most out of that, so we put a number of the plants that were getting more caterpillar came back, so that’s what we were doing,” Dr Hargleaves said.
Dr De Vues and his team worked with the Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Research Centre (NAERC) to design and develop the new system.
“They’re able to look at the soil, they’re able, over the course of five to six weeks, to identify the caterpillar in that soil, and so the team can take those samples, isolate them and then isolate them to get rid of them,” he explained.
The team then took those samples to the National Insect Laboratory (NIL), an Australian division of the National Research Council (NRC), and tested them.
They found that the team had identified the type of fungus that was responsible for the caterbugs emerging.
The fungus was called Oligostrichia californica, which is a plant-eating insect that causes mild to moderate leaf blight and other pests.
“We identified it by finding the type and location of the fungus, we found the location of a few of the fungi in that region and then we went through a process of analysing the plant, and we identified that it’s O. califortica,” Dr De Vuces said.
The NIL then created a model of how the fungus could enter the farm.
“By looking at the characteristics of the plant it would tell us where to put a plant, or where it should be placed in that area,” he continued.
“So that way we can identify the species of plant and the species and the type that’s going to be going into that plant, so then we can use that information to remove that species from that plant.”
He then used that information and other data gathered to design a system to remove O. cricholomantis from the farm, using a process known as chemical and mechanical insect removal.
“In this case, the system that we’re using is very similar to what we do in a lab setting,” he added.
The researchers hope that the system, called the ACE system, will help farmers prevent the emergence and spread of caterflies, caterpillarks and other insects.
“If we can eliminate the problem, we can then hopefully have a better understanding of how to manage the problem,” Dr Duvries said.
He says that the ACE technology could also be used to control pests in other areas of the farming industry.
“One of the things we have found that can be really useful in that field is the ability of plants to respond to pests in their environment.
Plants respond to insects in their soil,” he pointed out.”
There’s a lot that can go wrong if you have insect populations that are not responding to the plants.
So this is a really, really, very important thing.”
Dr DeVues says the ACE project has been a long-term project, but he believes that it will be more successful in the future.”I