Thursday, 04 July 2024 12:55

Plan to keep fall armyworm away

Written by  Staff Reporters
Fall armyworm is believed to have blown over to New Zealand from Australia after a cyclone in early 2022. Fall armyworm is believed to have blown over to New Zealand from Australia after a cyclone in early 2022.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investing in the development of an integrated pest management approach to safeguard New Zealand’s maize and sweetcorn industries against fall armyworm.

MPI will contribute up to $300,000 over three years to the $630,000 project through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

“We’re collaborating with the Foundation for Arable Research, Process Vegetables NZ, Vegetables NZ Inc, and growers on management and mitigation strategies to help reduce production losses and enhance resilience to this invasive pest,” says Biosecurity New Zealand deputy director-general Stuart Anderson.

“Together we’ll develop some really good tools for growers, including establishing surveillance networks on a national scale.”

Fall armyworm is believed to have blown over to New Zealand from Australia after a cyclone in early 2022. After a year of battling the pest, MPI and industry partners agreed to close the response and shift the focus to longterm management of the pest by industry. Fall armyworm has the potential to impact 72,490 hectares of maize, with an estimated value of more than $480 million and 3320 hectares of sweetcorn production, with an export value of $36.9 million.

“We don’t know what the full impact of the fall armyworm incursion will be in the future as it depends largely on our winter temperatures and suitable host plants in the absence of maize and sweetcorn,” says Ashley Mills, biosecurity officer, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR).

“For instance, in areas with warmer winter temperatures such as Northland, the insect has the capacity to overwinter and survive all year round. With warming temperatures, we might expect the problem to grow year on year.

“Part of our research will be to identify gaps of knowledge around the winter growing season and dispersal of fall armyworm.

“We’ll produce models and come up with early warning tools for agronomists and growers, so they understand when they need to employ their most intensive management strategies.

“There’s no one-sizefits- all solution, and approaches may vary according to factors such as region, climate or soil type. In most cases, encouraging beneficial insects will work, but in more problematic regions or localities, insecticides might be needed, and the timing of application will be important.

“Over the next 3 years we’ll focus on understanding fall armyworm phenology and distribution, developing New Zealand specific economic thresholds and finding long-term solutions that reduce reliance on agrichemicals, and preserve soil health, water quality and biodiversity.”

FAR and Vegetables NZ Inc will host information and tools for fall armyworm management on their websites. This will include modelling, distribution maps, guidelines, and training videos. FAR will also host workshops over winter, tailored to each region.

Anderson says engagement with growers will be an essential part of the programme.

“Ultimately, it’s the growers that will need to implement the strategies and use the tools. This project aims to make these easily available for everyone to use.”

More like this

Hope for dairy recovery

The fortunes of the dairy industry are expected to bounce back in about a year’s time, according to the Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Ray Smith.

Biosecurity - Our Responsibility

OPINION: The news could not have been more concerning – an industry member deliberately and illegally imported grapevines into New Zealand, and then grew those vines in one of our major winegrowing regions, thereby threatening the livelihoods of friends, neighbours, and colleagues in the industry, and potentially the wider primary sector.

Home detention for animal neglect

A Taranaki dairy farmer received four-month home detention and was disqualified from overseeing of animals for 18 months over a lack of feed and welfare which led to some animals being euthanised.


Red tape 'blocking access to crop production products'

Outgoing chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, Nadine Tunley has taken a swipe at government agencies for the “costly and lengthy regulatory approval process” to get new crop protection products registered.

Farmers back ACT MP's bill

ACT MP and Northland dairy farmer Mark Cameron is lodging a new member’s bill that would prevent regional and district councils from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.


Govt unveils climate strategy

The Government has launched its new Climate Strategy, which it says is a comprehensive and ambitious plan to reduce the…

Machinery & Products

More efficient jumbo wagons

In a move that will be welcomed by many, Austrian manufacturer Pottinger appears to be following a trend of bringing…

Fieldays' top young innovator

Growing up on a South Waikato sheep and beef farm, Penny Ranger has firsthand experience on the day-to-day challenges.

Claas completes 500,000th machine

Claas is celebrating half a million combine harvesters built since 1936, marking the occasion by building anniversary machines from the…

Donated tractors welcome news

When Cyclone Gabrielle hit in February 2023, it left an estimated $13.5 billion worth of damage across New Zealand.

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Fieldays focused

OPINION: Your old mate had a wee crack at Fieldays recently for the perception it was more focused on quantity…

'Woke madness'

OPINION: Real estate agent Janet Dickson's court case, following her refusal to complete a compulsory Māori culture course, is being watched…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter