Thwarting plague and pestilence in the Australian sugar industry: Crop protection capacity and resilience built by agricultural extension
Hunt, W and Birch, C and Vanclay, F, Thwarting plague and pestilence in the Australian sugar industry: Crop protection capacity and resilience built by agricultural extension, Crop Protection, 37 pp. 71-80. ISSN 0261-2194 (2012) [Refereed Article]
This paper investigates how Australian sugar industry extension services over the last decade have overcome historical pest management challenges in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.). The industry has done this by building increased capacity amongst its extension agents and farmers. This paper considers how
coordinated extension efforts have reduced production losses from its two principal pests: greyback canegrub - Dermolepida albohirtum (Waterhouse), and rodents (i.e., Rattus sordidus and Melomys burtoni). It details the complexity of the respective pest management issues and the efficacy of industry
efforts in resolving outbreak situations in the early 2000s. The paper then investigates how combined research, development and extension efforts have been able to mitigate risk of similar outbreaks over the last decade. These RD&E efforts have delivered IPM packages that are practical, defined, and ready for onfarm use. They have delivered sustained reductions in pest damage and an increase in knowledge and skills amongst extension agents and growers. Overall, industry is more confident, skilled and pro-active in the management of rats and canegrubs than in decades past. Consequently, the Australian sugar
industry is a more resilient entity as a function of these extension initiatives. The strategies described here provide a model for building capacity and resilience in the sugar and other industries when confronted
with multi-faceted challenges related to pest biology and behaviour, availability of inputs for production, economic forces and environmental considerations.
integrated pest management, IPM, agricultural extension, sugarcane, rodents, canegrubs, resilience, capacity building