New online tool calculates helicoverpa thresholds

Author: Rachel Bowman | Date: 20 Nov 2012

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A new online tool is helping northern grain growers and advisers carry out complex calculations on insect pest control thresholds while in the field or office.

Dr Melina Miles, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) principal entomologist says the online calculator offers several benefits and is the first of its kind for assessing the economics of controlling helicoverpa in chickpeas and sorghum, and sorghum midge.

"Calculating the economics of control is critical to making a decision about if and when pest populations require treatment,” Dr Miles said.

“The calculator overcomes the need to try and remember the formulas in the field.

“Best of all, the calculator can be used off-line on most mobile devices, so it is available when you need to make the decision in the field.”

The calculator allows growers to:

  • Input checking data (pest numbers) and row spacing
  • Input costs of control and crop value
  • Calculate an economic threshold for your specific situation
  • Recalculate the economic threshold for a specific cost:benefit ratio

The calculator can be used online and users with the latest browser versions of Internet Explorer (9+), Chrome, Firefox or Safari can also access it offline.

Dr Miles says there are more pest calculators in development, including one for podsucking bugs in summer pulses and Helicoverpa in mungbeans.

With commodity prices higher than they have been for several years, ‘rules of thumb’ thresholds that agronomists and growers have been using may be underestimating the potential losses, she says.

“The calculators are an easy way to run a range of likely pest pressure and cost of control scenarios.”

Dr Miles welcomes Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funding for the development of the calculator, the Beatsheet integrated pest management (IPM) blog and its strategic investment in IPM research projects carried out by DAFF.

To access the calculator and for a more detailed discussion of insect pest management in a range of crops, visit

For more information on GRDC-supported research, visit


For interviews:

Dr Melina Miles, DAFF Qld Principal Entomologist
(07) 4688 1369


Rachel Bowman, Cox Inall Communications
0412 290 673

Region North