Grains Research and Development

Economic thresholds for the major pests reducing profitability in the Australian grains industry


RTF Description RFT No. PROC 9174838: Request for Tender for Economic thresholds for the major pests reducing profitability in the Australian grains industry
Release Date Monday 9 January 2017
Closing Time 5pm ACT local time, Monday 20 February 2017
Offer Period Tenders will remain open for acceptance by the GRDC for a period of 6 months after the Closing Time.
Deadline for Submission of Tenderer Enquiries 5pm ACT local time Monday 13 February 2017
Document Contact and Enquiries Attention: Wendy Bosci
Grains Research and Development Corporation
Fax: (02) 61664599 Email:
Electronic Lodgement of Tenders Tenderers must submit their responses electronically through the Grains Investment Portal at


The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is a statutory corporation established under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989. It is subject to accountability and reporting obligations set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It is responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing research and development, and delivering improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.

Thresholds are not known for many insects. There are also questions as to the reliability of the published thresholds. How, where and when was the data generated and is it still relevant? Has a change in crop type, architecture, management and resistance levels (e.g. midge resistance, more pods on canola branches) changed the economic threshold? Is there an effective means of developing thresholds? Can data be generated using a region wide paddock sampling program and/or modelling?

There are over a hundred invertebrate species that damage crops in the Australian grains industry. The presence of a pest in a crop is not an automatic trigger for control. Attempting to prevent all damage is usually uneconomic. Economic thresholds (ETs) help to rationalise the use of pesticides, and are one of the keys to profitable pest management. ETs can be defined as the pest population size likely to cause damage equal in value to the cost of control (pesticide plus application). The GRDC Grains Pest Advisory Committee (GPAC) recently produced a paper, ‘Economic thresholds for pest management in the grains industry’. After a review of ETs (2014), it was revealed that in most cases none existed or those that did had limited usefulness. The grains industry requires additional and better thresholds that can guide their judgments on pest control.

The following methods are available to establish ETs:

  1. An evaluation of existing tacit knowledge held by experienced agronomists and entomologists, then testing the validity of the existing ETs.
  2. Undertake detailed field and laboratory research (most expensive approach; would only be justified for key pests for which the potential impact on crops cannot be estimated).
  3. Computer modelling and simulation. These mechanisms provide valuable and much less expensive ways of examining complex biotic and abiotic interactions that might influence ETs, and provide scope to assess the performance of nominal thresholds. However, the need for research to establish the crop loss inflicted by each species is likely to remain, as it is a key component of modelling interactions between plant and pest. Similarly, the use of proxies for ETs, such as risk factors, can be a legitimate and practical alternative approach.
  4. Determination if a nominal (subjective, without an empirical basis) or dynamic (flexible, e.g. seasonal price fluctuations) threshold is required.

This GRDC investment is to deliver:

By October 2017, a written report delivered to GRDC describing the plans to determine thresholds and a priority listing of crop x pest thresholds for each region. The report will include findings from at least 5 information-gathering workshops held in each region, and will include input from SAGI regarding statistical analysis of proposed trials. 


At least 5 regional information-gathering workshops are to be convened in each GRDC region (North, South and West). The workshop convener will in consultation with the GRDC, first identify, engage and select relevant experts, including key agronomists and entomologists, to participate in each of the workshops. Workshop participants will assist to propose suitable methodology to undertake the work on the pest x crop priorities for each region, as identified in the report prepared by the Grains Pest Advisory Committee (GPAC).

The report will include:

  • Tacit knowledge used by agronomists on thresholds.
  • Justified priority listing of pest x crop for each region.
  • Proposed methodology to determine thresholds (e.g. field experimentation, glasshouse microcosm, field evaluation of tacit knowledge of agronomists, field validation from other regions, computer modelling and simulation) and why this method was chosen over other methodologies.
  • Incorporation of beneficials into the dynamic thresholds, where appropriate.
  • Consideration of crop recovery factors.
  • Consultation with SAGI regarding the proposed field trial numbers/designs etc. 

The report will be submitted to the GRDC for approval prior to any further work occurring.

Application period

The application end date for this investment is 5pm ACT local time on 20 February 2017 as advised on the Grains Investment Portal and all applications must be submitted via the portal prior to this closing date for consideration.

All requests for further information or clarification in relation to this investment should be made in writing to prior to 5pm ACT local time on Monday 13 February 2017. All requests and responses to requests will be published on the GRDC website.

Selection Criteria

  1. A clear and thorough plan to achieve the project output, specifying:
    1. method to be used (with reference to the top ranked pests, in terms of current losses across all crops in each region, and cross referenced to the GPAC Issues Paper. Those priority pests for which ETs are unavailable, yet potentially practical to generate have been collated by GRDC and made available to applicants).
    2. proposed milestones
    3. proposed locations of workshops/field experiments (if required to deliver project outputs)
    4. staffing (including relevant skills, experience and availability of key personnel and proposed subcontractors to identify and engage relevant experts including key agronomists and entomologists to participate in workshops. These participants will be identified via a selection process which will be determined in consultations with GRDC).
    5. budget (defining the funds sought in each year of the project and the potential investment from all parties)
    6. project structure and management arrangements
  2. A plan for how the project will contribute to achievement of the outcome, specifying:
    1. expected steps to deliver the outcome (pathway to market)
    2. relevant assumptions in relation to each step of the pathway to market
    3. identification of target users of the project outputs (who will the project directly deliver to e.g. grower, adviser, plant breeder, pathologist, the GRDC)
    4. specific information, products and/or services to be delivered to target users
    5. potential for the development of commercial IP
  3. Demonstrated track record of the project team, including:
    1. relevant achievements of the project leader in providing leadership, co-ordination, management, monitoring and evaluation and the timely delivery of high quality outputs
    2. relevant technical knowledge and experience of all key personnel (including proposed subcontractors) in the research area
    3. relevant achievements in the delivery of commercial IP (if relevant)
    4. ability of the project team to collaborate with the relevant research organisations and industry personnel to build on the research (national and international) already undertaken in this area
  4. Freedom to operate in regards to the provision of the project outputs to GRDC or a third party if required:
    1. Research Organisation intellectual property that is required to deliver the project outputs and any restrictions that may impact on the provision of project outputs to GRDC or a third party, if required
    2. third party intellectual property that is required to deliver the project outputs and any restrictions that may impact on the provision of project outputs to GRDC or a third party, if required
    3. other intellectual property that may impact upon the delivery of project outputs to GRDC or a third party
    4. the approach to be taken to overcome any restrictions identified
  5. The cost effectiveness and value for money of the tender response.
  6. Compliance with the tender requirements and draft Contract.
  7. Quality and effectiveness of risk controls.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. The Applicant must be a single legal entity or recognised firm of partners.
  2. The Applicant must be financially viable. For the purposes of this condition, “financially viable” means that the Tenderer has not had any of the following events occur in respect of it:
    1. a meeting of creditors being called or held within the past five years;
    2. the appointment of a liquidator, provisional liquidator or administrator within the past five years;
    3. the appointment of a controller (as defined in section 9 of the Corporations Act (2001), or analogous person appointed, including in respect of any of its property within the past five years;
    4. a failure to comply with a statutory demand in respect of the payment of any debt;
    5. an inability to pay debts as they fall due or otherwise becoming insolvent;
    6. becoming incapable of managing its own affairs for any reason;
    7. taking any step resulting in insolvency under administration (as defined in section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001);
    8. entering into a compromise or arrangement with, or assignment for the benefit of, any of its creditors, or any analogous event.
  3. The Applicant and any proposed subcontractor must be compliant with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.
  4. The Applicant must include in its application details of any known circumstances that may give rise to an actual or potential Conflict of Interest with GRDC in responding to this procurement. The Applicant's response will be taken into account in the evaluation.


Applying for GRDC investments is now done using the GRDC Grains Investment Portal.  Once registered, users can visit the Portal anytime.

To register as a user, please visit

  • Click on the register button at the top right hand side.
  • Complete the Registration Form. Fill in all the fields: your email address, a password and the captcha. Your password must be alphanumeric with at least one special character (i.e. not a letter or number). Click register to continue the process.
  • Registration is confirmed by the system sending an email to you, with details to complete the registration process.
  • Once the registration process is complete, you can sign in and review all investments open for tender

Once you have located this investment, you can commence the application process by completing the details for each field available, until you reach “Submit Application” on the last page.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact Wendy Bosci – Contracts Administrator Crop Protection via email  or use the online support function available.

Application evaluation

Applications will be considered by a selection committee and the successful applicant will be informed within four weeks of the application closing date.


Questions and Answers

Added 11 Jan 2017


In the ‘Economic thresholds for the major pests reducing profitability in the Australian grains industry’ will  each region have a separate workshop convenor within a separate tender, or will the successful applicant manage all three regions?

I am unsure if I need to contact other regions to put in a joint EOI or whether I can do an application for one region only?


“The preference is for a single project management for all three regions.  However, applications  to only  tender for a single region will be assessed on overall merit and value. “ 

Added 31 Jan 2017


Is the Grains Pest Advisory Committee Issues Paper available to tendering organisations?


All relevant sections of the GPAC Issues Paper will be made available to the successful tenderer. At this stage, respondents should refer to the document ‘Supporting information – Economical thresholds PROC 9174838’ which contains information distilled from the Issues Paper as well as the GRDC’s summary listing of economic threshold requirements across all GRDC regions.

Added 03 Feb 2017


When do you expect the project will be contracted, given the October 2017 completion date?


It is anticipated that the project will be contracted within 2 months of the tender closing date. 


The online form has an additional box (Outcome) that was not in the tender documentation on the tender site. It reads “By 30 June 2022, Australian grain growers and their advisors have access to empirically-based, reliable and dynamic economic thresholds for the major grain pests to support decision making, reduce reliance on broad-spectrum chemistry, and increase grower profits”. The “deliverable” of the tender, as per the documentation, is “By October 2017, a written report…..”. In the online form, this deliverable is identified as “output 1”.
Will the project be contracted to 2022 or to October 2017?


As indicated in the online form there is an overall “outcome” that GRDC investment into the use of economic thresholds to manage invertebrate pests is aiming to achieve by 2022. This project is the first phase in an overall possible investment in invertebrate management through the use of economic thresholds. This project is to deliver a report on economic threshold targets and methodology to GRDC by October 2017. This report will be used to determine the extent of further investment in economic thresholds for the management of invertebrate pests in the grain industry.

Added 03 Feb 2017


Are the thresholds  just fixed or rather respond to economic conditions and probably biological and physical ones as well?Does the threshold include generating damage functions for important pests of major crops so that farmers and their advisers can make a judgment about whether the value (dependent on price) of the increment in crop damage from the next level of pest populations exceeds the cost of control?


This investment is to determine the type of threshold required for each pest x crop situation and the best method in determining these thresholds. In the paper the term dynamic threshold  is a threshold that is based on damage functions for important pests of major crop and the relative value of that damage to overall crop profitability (including a range of  variants such as of crop value, cost of implementing management option, level of beneficial’s invertebrates). A static threshold is a fixed threshold.


Does the GRDC intend, or is there scope for, the ‘workshops’ to be integrated with GRDC update workshops to be held around the country, or would they need to be entirely independent of those?


It is envisaged that the workshops will be independent to GRDC update workshops.