Drones release predatory wasps which target pests eating vegetables e.g silverleaf whitefly.

Source ABC news Australia: Luke Jurgens is trialling the release of beneficial insects into tomato crops from his drone. (ABC Rural: Melanie Groves)

Drone-loads of predatory wasps descending onto crops of growing vegetables may seem menacing, but the tactic is helping farmers lessen their impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

Image ©(ABC Rural: Melanie Groves)

Key points:

  • Predatory insects are already used by farmers to prey on pest insects in tomato crops
  • Now drone pilot Luke Jurgens is trialling drones to release the predator insects
  • Agronomists hope it will help reduce chemical use by making the practice more effective

Parasitic wasps are already in use in small crops around the country as a biological control where they target pest insects such as the silverleaf whitefly, reducing the need for farmers to rely solely on chemicals.

Bowen-based agronomist Jessica Volker said using predator insects in vegetable crops was part of a multi-pronged approach to integrated pest management.

“The wasps are excellent because not only do they help control the pest, they also take the pressure off our chemicals and hopefully reduce resistance to those chemicals,” Ms Volker said.

In north Queensland’s salad bowl of Bowen, growers and industry are working together to trial drones as a step towards making the practice more labour, cost and time-efficient

While the use of drones for pest management is still in its trial stages, operators and agronomists alike can see potential for the future of agriculture.(Supplied: Gillian Russell)

Licensed drone pilot Luke Jurgens is workingwith the Bowen-Gumlu growers association on a trial to release predatory wasps from a drone into tomato fields.

“Prior to drones, the consultants or agronomists would go through with vials with little wasps inside,” Mr Jurgens said.

“They’ll go along in a bay of tomatoes, or any crop, and just drop them so many metres apart, where they’d hatch from their vials and do their thing.

Images and quotes courtesy ABC news Read more on https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-08-04/drone-workings-in-agriculture-can-increase-efficiency/12507330

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