Developing and promoting IPM in grains

Invertebrate pests are a significant challenge to sustainable grain production in many parts of Australia. Reliance on ‘broad-spectrum’ insecticides to control pests leads to problems in pest resurgence, secondary pests and the development of pesticide resistance. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a proven approach to manage pests that integrates biological, cultural and chemical control techniques. This project benchmarked current pest management practices and understanding of IPM principles among growers and advisors. Through multiple on-farm demonstration trials established with regional grower groups this project demonstrated alternatives to conventional pest management.

In theory an application of an insecticide should lead to fewer pests present in a field, therefore less feeding damage to crop plants, and ultimately higher yields at the end of the season. However, we did not consistently see this pattern. Our three main findings are:


 1. Greater insecticide use was not coupled with higher yields.

2. For canola, insecticide seed-treatments were beneficial, but other insecticide inputs rarely provided a yield benefit. For wheat, none of the insecticide inputs provided a yield gain.

3. Insecticide inputs were economically costly and provided no yield gain in low-pest pressure years.

Print-at-home documents for you to download:

Two page summary of the project
Findings at a glance 


Scientific article from this study can be found at:

Macfadyen S, Hardie DC, Fagan L, Stefanova K, Perry KD,  DeGraaf, H.E, Holloway, J, Spafford, H. & Umina, P.A. (2014) Reducing Insecticide Use in Broad-Acre Grains Production: An Australian Study. PLoS ONE 9(2): e89119. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089119



Graphs showing the Impact of pest management approach on crop yield in small-plot trials of wheat (A) in 2011 and canola (B) in 2010. Overall we found no significant effect of pest management approach on crop yield. In SA wheat (A) we found a significant effect but this was sensitive the presence or absence of one sample point. In WA1 canola there was a marginally significant effect on yield (P = 0.049, (conventional/LI)>control). Bars indicate the mean of 4 replicate plots and 1 × standard error.

This project was funded by GRDC (project #UWA00134) and lead by Darryl Hardie (UWA/DAFWA). Teams in each state consisted of:
WA: Laura Fagan, Katia Stefanova, Danica Collins, Mary  van Wees, Alonso Calvo Araya
SA: Kym Perry, Helen De Graaf, Sarah Mantel, Latif Salehi, Mark Barrett
NSW: Jo Holloway, Sarina Macfadyen, Adam Shephard, John Lester, Mick Neave
VIC: Paul Umina, Stuart McColl, Sam Strano, Valerie Caron
and Helen Spafford currently at the University of Hawaii

Thank you to the land holders who generously allowed us to access to their properties to conduct the trials

Growers groups in each state supported this project:
FarmLink Research (NSW)
Birchip cropping group (VIC)
Alkaline soils group (SA)
Living Farm (WA)
Facey group (WA)