Bonnie Walker, chair of SoilCare Inc and Alstonville avocado grower, checks a map on PestWeb for the presence and migration of insect pests across the region.
Bonnie Walker, chair of SoilCare Inc and Alstonville avocado grower, checks a map on PestWeb for the presence and migration of insect pests across the region.

Pestweb tracks pesky pests

Local farmers will soon be able to track the progress of insect pest populations thanks to the development of ‘Pestweb’ a new internet-based pest tracking system.

Farmers and growers in the local region have been gathering and sharing data about the pests which are on their farms and uploading the data to the internet. The data is then overlaid onto maps sourced from Google maps and then shared with farmers via the Pestweb website, where farmers and growers can track where pest populations are located in relationship to their farms.

Local macadamia growers who have been trialling the system during the recent macadamia nutborer season used pheromone traps to monitor nutborer moth populations on a weekly basis. When this data was shared with other farmers and researchers via the Pestweb website map, all macadamia growers benefitted as they were more able to effectively time the release of the Trichogramma wasps used for biological control of the Macadamia nut borer.

Dr Ruth Huwer, entomologist with Industry & Investment NSW at the Centre for Tropical Horticulture, said the map allowed farmers to make decisions for specific pest management as it gave them advance warning that pests were on the move to their area. This allowed for treatments such as biological controls to be well-timed and targeted, thus reducing pesticide use.

The tracking system has been developed by SoilCare Inc and Industry & Investment NSW and has been hailed as the latest tool in the pursuit of productive and ecologically sustainable farm management.

The PestWeb website, database and pest tracking system were designed and developed by NTech Media, a specialised web solutions and application development company located in Lismore.

The website can be found at www.pestweb.org.au


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