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Growers See Benefits In 'Green' Pest Management

From the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology

For immediate release

GROWERS SEE BENEFITS IN 'GREEN' PEST MANAGEMENT

A group of Hawke's Bay pipfruit-growers believes it will benefit from overseas customers' growing distaste for chemically sprayed fruit. Twenty growers recently completed a three-year trial in which they tested their management of pests and diseases. They used more environmentally friendly insecticides, monitoring and biological control instead of a calendar spray programme of pesticides. "We've changed what we spray and how often," says Diana Gillum, spokeswoman for the Hawke's Bay Pipfruit IFP Group. "We grow mainly for the United States market and before we used 'integrated fruit production', we used to have to spray every two weeks, killing everything - including pests and predators - to meet market access requirements. "But in the US and in Europe, the public is not keen on the use of chemicals and is demanding that all growers follow an IFP programme." Faced with changing market demands, the growers, in various parts of Hawke's Bay, wondered what to do. They decided to take part in the trial, which was done with the collaboration of Agriculture New Zealand and Hort Research at Havelock North. The project was assisted by Technology New Zealand, which invests in research into new products, processes or services as part of the Government's plan to fashion a knowledge-based economy. "We don't spray as much now," says Mrs Gillum, an apple-grower at Puketapu, between Hastings and Napier. "We now monitor the build-up of pests, such as leaf-roller and codling moth - especially the 'hot-spots' where you're most likely to find them. "When the pest threshold is reached, we use sprays that kill only them. These sprays are more environmentally friendly than the organophosphates used in the past. They are more expensive, but as we don't spray as often, overall chemical costs have been reduced by about 30 per cent." She says the less frequent spraying allows natural predators to build up and feast on the pests, so by not applying broad spectrum organophosphates, growers are increasing the orchard biodiversity. Mrs Gillum sees big benefits in continuing with the changes. "We're using fewer chemicals, so there's less residue on the fruit and we sell fruit on quality and a clean image." -ends- Caption: Hawke's Bay apple grower Diana Gillum: "We've changed what we spray and how often."

Contact * Diana Gillum, Springfield Rd, RD3, Hastings. Ph/fax: (06) 844-7612. * Nigel Metge, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (Auckland Office), (09) 912-6730, or 021 454-095. Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525. Email: ian@idcomm.co.nz

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