Most cultural management options are part of the planning phase of integrated pest management (IPM). Trends in crop monitoring data help pinpoint problems, and improve preventative pest and disease management tactics for future crops.
Cultural management options include activities routinely carried out as part of your farming operations. They can be manipulated to make a crop :
- less attractive
- better able to withstand damage
- less palatable to pests.
Review the previous season
Review what happened in the previous season and use this information to plan your actions for the current season. Think about:
- what did and didn't work
- weather conditions during the crop
- pest levels that occurred and when
- your market, i.e. export or local
- available products, changes in registrations, permits
- ordering beneficial insects, i.e. Trichogramma
- reviewing your monitoring logs, spray thresholds used last season and crop damage.
Select a site that does not have a history of problems, or the problems that have occurred are a result of cropping history or are more of an issue at different times of the season.
Avoid paddocks prone to sclerotinia rot and red root rot during the wetter periods of the season. Shallow planting helps reduce red root rot severity.
Maintain mulches or green manure crops that also with red root rot management.
The time of year will influence what crop problems you have. Select a production period that will minimise pests and diseases. Remember that:
- foliage diseases are usually worse in warm, wet weather
- heliothis is usually worse in warm weather
- mites prefer warm, dry conditions.
The variety you choose will depend on your time production time and known or expected problems. Discuss the best varieties for your area with your local reseller or seed representative. Smaller, open varieties may be best when sclerotinia rot is expected to be an issue.
Thorough land preparation is essential, particularly allowing time for the complete breakdown of crop residue and any green manure crop. Good land preparation also assists with plant establishment. It reduces the risk of waterlogging, and plant loss from damping-off and other soil-borne diseases and pests.
Cultivation will help reduce the number of soil-borne insects, including over-wintering heliothis pupae, a process known as pupae busting.
Mature heliothis larvae pupate in the soil and emerge as adults within 2-3 weeks. Heliothis also enter a stage of suspended development during the cooler winter months, a process known as over-wintering. To control these pupae cultivate the soil should to a depth of at least 5-10 cm with the appropriate equipment. The pupae are either killed by direct physical damage or through disturbance of the emergence tunnel so the moth can't escape the ground.
Poor farm hygiene will result in losses from pests and diseases. Good farm hygiene is one of the simplest and most often overlooked methods of pest management. It results in fewer pests and diseases developing on and being spread around the farm. Good farm hygiene includes crop rotation, cover cropping and crop hygiene.
Avoid double cropping with beans, especially where sclerotinia rot or red root is a problem.
Cover cropping (green manure crops)
These crops can improve the soil structure and water and nutrient-holding capacity. They also provide a break from intensive production. Certain cover crops, such as biofumigants (BQ Mulch or mustards), can also help manage some soil-borne pests and diseases.
Destroy old crops and their residues, weeds and volunteer (self set) plant, all are a reservoir of pests and diseases. Plough in crops as soon as harvesting is completed. This could help reduce local area build-up of heliothis where sequential plantings are made beside each other. Scuffle or chip out weeds to remove insect pest and disease weed hosts. This will also improve spray coverage and air circulation during wet humid weather.
Avoid moving soil around the farm with dirty equipment, machinery and vehicles, and on workers boots. This can be especially important if you have paddocks with known sclerotinia rot and red root rot present in the soil.
- Ainsworth, N 1991, Growing beans in Queensland, Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane.
- Deuter, P, Wright, R, Duff, J, Walsh, B, Napier, T, Hill, L, Dimsey, R & Learmonth, S 2005, Growing guide: sweet corn grower's guide, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.
- Heisswolf, S, Davis, B, Carey, D, Henderson, C, Walsh, B & Bagshaw, J 2004, Growing guide: brassica grower's handbook, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.
- McDougall, S, Napier, T, Valenzisi, J, Watson, A, Duff, J, Geitz, G & Franklin, T 2002, Integrated pest management in lettuce: information guide, NSW Agriculture, Orange, NSW.
- Murray, D & Boddington, J 1998, Chemical-free heliothis pupae control, Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane, QI98036.