Home' The Bunyip : January 18th 2017 Contents Page 34 "THE BUNYIP" GAWLER, Wednesday, January 18, 2017
LOCAL crops this season have
managed to escape damage from
a pest which was in high numbers
over the 2015/16 harvest period.
Last year, agronomists in the
Mid North made detections of
the Russian wheat aphid (RWA),
a major cereal crop pest, over
RWAs inject toxins into crops
during feeding to slow their growth
and, with heavy infestations, can
even kill the plant.
Barraba farmer John Lush said
many farmers are now aware of
the threat posed by Russian wheat
aphids, and how to prevent them,
which has reduced their impact this
However, they've also received
help along the way from some
mutual allies in the insect world.
"This year it wasn't as big of an
issue as we originally thought," Mr
"Years ago, we thought it would
be the end of the wheat industry,
but it seems there has been some
local predators build up since they
arrived and we didn't even have to
spray for them this year."
"There is some evidence around
that the beneficial insects attack
RWAs, and so you need to make
sure you keep your beneficial
insects alive by not using
insecticides, and then they will
gradually build up and kill them.
"We had agronomists out and all
sorts of stuff last year, so the issue
is not new and it has been around
for a while."
Mr Lush said, although there are
a few measures that can be taken,
farmers should be wary leading
into future harvest seasons.
"Some are thinking, 'oh well, it
is just another aphid', but you
do have to monitor it and keep it
under control," he said.
"They are not going to go away,
it is something we need to get our
head around, and it is just another
thing for us to need to manage.
"It can devastate a wheat crop,
there is no doubt about that...
Farmers do need to be across it."
According to Mr Lush, the RWAs
damage the leaf by
grazing on them first and
then eventually attacking
the head and the chaff of
To educate farmers
further about the effects
of the aphids and how
to effectively control
them, an international
research authority will
visit South Australia to
hold information sessions
early next month.
Mr Lush said these
sessions could be useful
for farmers who may not
be up to date with the
"They've had Russian
wheat aphids in Russia
for years, and if you
talk to Russian farmers
about it, their comment
is, 'oh yeah, they're not
an issue'. But, of course,
this is Australia, and it is
different," he said.
"We don't have the cold
winter they have and all
of that, so it is still a bit
of a learning curve."
For information on the
sessions visit grdc.com.
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Reference group formed
GAWLER River property owners
will form part of a reference group
to consult with the river's flood
management panel to improve on
current flood mitigation methods.
In the wake of last September's costly
flooding, which wiped out crops in
Virginia, Two Wells and Buckland
Park, the Gawler River Flood
Management Authority (GRFMA)
launched a review into possible flood
mitigation strategies in the lower
As a result of the review, a newly
formed Lower Gawler River Reference
Group -- planned to include property
owners, growers, industry and State
Government representatives -- will
now assist the GRFMA in making
improvements to the current floodplain
Gawler councillors received the
Gawler River Floodplain Management
Authority Annual Report 2015/16
-- which included the ongoing review
into last year's major flood event -- at
their December meeting.
The report confirmed the formation
of the reference group, which it said
would assist the GRFMA Technical
"The GRFMA have responded to this
event and is actively engaging with
both State Government representatives
and the community in regards to
opportunities to support further flood
mitigation works occurring in the
lower reaches of the Gawler River," the
The report also reaffirmed the
previously reported claim that the
flood event had far more severe
consequences regionally, both
upstream and downstream, than those
experienced in Gawler.
"From a GRFMA perspective, the
Gawler River led to significant
flooding, occurring on the lower plains
where flood waters breached the river
embankments, and caused substantial
damage to both horticultural crops and
public and private infrastructure," the
"A review of potential flood mitigation
option strategies for the lower Gawler
River (i.e. downstream of Bakers Road)
are currently being considered and will
be reported back to the GRFMA."
Wet seeds no good
HEAVY summer rainfall through
parts of the local cropping region
could impact on the viability of
seeds grain growers are planning to
retain for sowing this year.
Grains Research and Development
Corporation (GRDC) has encouraged
growers to closely scrutinise seed
being set aside for planting, as any
grain subjected to wetting at harvest is
more susceptible to poor germination,
low vigour and degradation during
storage and handling.
GRDC Southern Regional Panel
member Kate Wilson said it is
essential growers determine whether
damage to grain caused by rain at
harvest is purely cosmetic or the
symptom of a seed-borne disease
which will impact on germination.
"Proper management of the seed
starts at harvest and should continue
right through to storage, handling and
seeding next year," Mrs Wilson said.
The GRDC has offered a detailed
Retaining Seed fact sheet, which can
be viewed and downloaded via www.
Russian crop pest bested
Barabba Farmer John Lush was pleased Russian Wheat Aphids werenʼt as much of an issue, as originally expected, for
the 2016-17 harvest season.
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