Forum fights FAW

DAF hosted a symposium to tackle the growing fall armyworm problem. Pictures: MEGAN POPE

More than 70 experts from the agriculture industry, government, research facilities and funding bodies converged on Brisbane’s Eco-Sciences Precinct to join forces in the fight against fall armyworm on April 17 and 18.

The Department of Agriculture hosted a two-day National Fall Armyworm Symposium to share learnings and identify research, development and extension priorities.

Fall armyworm has had a major impact since arriving in Queensland in 2020, with infestations in maize and sorghum this year the most severe to date.

The pest has been found in all states of Australia except South Australia, including in every Queensland growing region from the Gulf and the Atherton Tablelands down to the Darling Downs.

AUSVEG CEO Michael Coote said fall armyworms caused significant damage to sweetcorn crops this year.

“As it spreads to new areas, growers around the country are quickly trying to learn and apply best-practice management techniques,” he said.

“With fall armyworm being found on an increasing range of crops, this is an important time for industry, researchers, government and other stakeholders to get together to share the latest knowledge on this pest.

“As a cross-agriculture problem, it’s heartening to see a broad range of industries working together to address the fall armyworm challenge with events such as this symposium.”

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has partnered with industry, universities and government agencies over four years to deliver research, development and extension on sustainable solutions for managing fall armyworm.

The 2021-22 State Budget included a further $3 million over two years for fall armyworm research, development, and extension.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said infestations were found in every important growing area in Queensland.

“With this year’s infestations being the most severe to date, the research and extension work being done by the Department and other government and research agencies across the country is even more important,” he said.

“This symposium is a rare and valuable opportunity as industry and researchers across horticulture, grains, cotton, animal and sugar industries work together to address the fall armyworm challenge and protect Australian agriculture into the future.”