National award for NSW researcher

NSW DPI scientist Sandra McDougall
Rick Horbury from Bayer CropScience and WA Minister for Agriculture, Kim Chance, present NSW DPI scientist Sandra McDougall with the AUSVEG Bayer CropScience Researcher of the Year Award for her contribution to IPM

The Australian vegetable industry has acknowledged the work of Yanco-based NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) scientist, Sandra McDougall, at its annual awards ceremony.

Dr McDougall was presented with the AUSVEG Bayer CropScience Researcher of the Year Award for her work with integrated pest management (IPM).

"IPM is allowing vegetable growers to produce clean, green crops by balancing biological and pesticide options to mange insect pests in their crops," Dr McDougall said.

"Since currant lettuce aphid was first found in Tasmania in 2004 and subsequently moved into all lettuce production areas on the mainland, we have been working with growers to equip them with IPM tools to manage the pest."

IPM demonstrations have been conducted in key lettuce growing areas, including one in the Sydney basin, where growers saw how beneficial insects and lettuce resistant to the pest are used to reduce the impact of the aphid.

According to Dr McDougall, NSW DPI is working to lift the profile of IPM and show growers how they can adopt IPM to manage currant lettuce aphid and other pests.

"Brown lacewings, ladybird beetles, hoverfly larvae and nabids are important beneficial insects which are helping to manage lettuce pests in the Sydney basin, central coast, lower Hunter, Hay and central west areas," she said.

"We are also keeping the industry informed through the Lettuce Leaf newsletter."

Dr McDougall recently conducted an IPM stocktake to help develop a strategic approach to funding IPM research and adoption.

"Consumers want to know that the food growers produce is safe and produced in an environmentally safe-way.

"IPM is important to the sustainability of the entire vegetable industry because it is the best strategy for the longterm management of pests and reduces the reliance on chemicals."

Growers can contact Dr McDougall at the Yanco Agricultural Institute on (02) 6951 2728 or their local district horticulturist to find out more about IPM.

The AUSVEG awards took place in Perth on May 31.