Paddock Practices: Grain protectant guide for growers ahead of storage

Date: 14 Oct 2020

image of harvest
Stored grain specialist Philip Burrill from DAF is encouraging growers to consider protectants if they are storing grain on-farm this harvest. Photo GRDC

A grain storage specialist is encouraging Queensland and New South Wales growers who are planning to store grain on-farm this season to consider using protectants to reduce the risk of insect infestations.

The use of protectants combined with good hygiene, aeration cooling and regular grain inspections are key tools for protecting grain quality.

Philip Burrill, from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), is a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grain Storage Extension Project specialist who is encouraging growers to consider protectants post-harvest on cereal grains, where appropriate.

“Grain protectants are designed to prevent pest infestations, not to control infestations, so ideally they should be applied at harvest time as grain is augered into storages,” Mr Burrill said.

“This season there is a good chance more growers will be holding grain for an extended period to provide a wider grain sales window and marketing options.

“Protectants are definitely something growers should consider if they are planning to store cereal grains for four months or longer.”

However, Mr Burrill warned growers needed a clear marketing strategy before treating grain with protectants, so they avoid using these chemicals if it was likely to cut themselves out of potentially profitable domestic or export markets, such as pesticide residue-free (PRF) markets.

“Growers should be talking to grain buyers ahead of harvest, so they have strategies in terms of grain quality segregations and are only applying treatments that suit the specific markets they may sell to,” Mr Burrill said.

“Grain protectants are a valuable tool for on-farm storage of planting seed, or for farm stockfeed grain. Always ensure you have the thumbs up to use protectants from the buyer and understand the withholding periods that may apply.”

When to use grain protectants

image of Phillip Burrill
DAF stored grain specialist Philip Burrill said grain protectants were a valuable tool for on-farm storage of planting seed, or stock feed grain, but growers needed to understand their market requirements before applying. Photo GRDC

Typically, protectant sprays are applied to cereal grain at harvest time as grain is augered into storages. They provide grain protection for three to nine months. Protectants control insects as they invade the grain during storage and control the immature stages (eggs, larvae or pupae) of these insects.

  • Become familiar with the stored product pests you may expect to see – for support view the Stored Grain Pests Identification – The Back Pocket Guide. If you see anything unusual, report it to your local state department of primary industries or phone the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881.
  • When live insects are detected in grain during monthly storage inspections, fumigation in a sealable silo is required for effective control. Grain protectant sprays are not to be used to disinfest grain.
  • With many domestic and export markets seeking grain supplies which are PRF, always talk to potential grain buyers/traders prior to applying grain protectant sprays.
  • No protectant sprays can be applied to pulses or oilseeds.

Common ‘on-farm’ uses for grain protectants

  • Planting seed held on-farm – wheat, barley, oats.
  • Grain held for an extended time in non-sealable storages (not suited for fumigation) and when the grain buyer has agreed to grain protectant use that is in line with directions for use on the registered product label.
  • Grain held on-farm as feed for livestock with agreement from livestock agent or buyer and is in line with directions for use on the registered product label.

Grain protectant choices

image of insects in jars
DAF stored grain specialist Philip Burrill warned grain protectants could not be used to control grain infected insects, but rather were a preventative measure ahead of storage. Photo GRDC.

Examples of two products, which includes an organophosphate (OP) partner product, to control the main storage pest species:

1. Conserve Plus™ Grain Protector: 100 g/L spinosad, 100 g/L s-methoprene. Can be used in combination with a compatible OP product such as chlorpyrifos-methyl (ReldanTM), or fenitrothion.

For label and application information, see Corteva’s website – Conserve Plus™ Grain Protector.

Key recommendations

  • Always add the OP partner to chlorpyrifos so the rice and maize weevil (Sitophilus spp.) is controlled.
  • Spray equipment calibration and care with application are critical to achieve the correct dose. A grain auger, rather than a belt tubeveyor, provides the mixing to achieve uniform spray coverage on grain.
  • If Conserve Plus treated grain is exposed to light, for example a semi open grain shed, cover the grain surface with a tarp or 80-90 per cent shade cloth. Sunlight breaks down Conserve Plus over time.
  • Only one application of Conserve Plus can be applied to a parcel of grain, so maximum residue limits (MRLs) are not exceeded. For more information go to Corteva’s web site and seek advice when purchasing Conserve Plus.

2. K-Obiol® EC Combi, synergised grain protectant: 50 g/L deltamethrin, 400 g/L piperonyl butoxide.  Used in combination with an OP partner, e.g. chlorpyrifos-methyl (ReldanTM), or fenitrothion.

For label and application details on product use, see Bayer’s website – K-Obiol® EC Combi.

Key recommendations

  • To control rice, maize and granary weevils (Sitophilus spp.), add a recommended OP partner (e.g. chlorpyrifos-methyl or fenitrothion) to the tank mix.
  • To ensure effective pest control and that MRLs are not exceeded, calibrate spray equipment to achieve correct dose rate and aim for uniform coverage on grain.
  • Only one application of K-Obiol can be applied to a parcel of grain, so MRLs are not exceeded.
  • Growers are required to complete a brief (approximately 60 minutes) online training course to be an ‘approved user’ prior to purchase of K-Obiol® EC Combi. See Bayer’s website.

Insect resistant management

If possible, rotate chemical active ingredients used for storage pest control at your storage facility. Example, for two years use Conserve Plus™ product, followed by one or two years of K-Obiol® EC Combi.

Please read and follow all label recommendations and ensure that the product is registered for use in your State prior to application of any product.

Always keep grain storage records to ensure accurate information is on commodity vendor declarations (CVD).

Application for grain protectants

Grain protectant application requires care to achieve the correct dose and uniform grain coverage. This leads to effective pest control results and ensures MRLs are not exceeded.

  • Know your auger’s grain transfer rate. Ensure you have good understanding of the grain flow rate, tonnes per hour, for the height the auger will be operating.
  • Calibrate your spray application unit with water and check appropriate nozzles and spray pressures are used to achieve the required application of one litre of spray mixture per tonne of grain.

For more information go to the GRDC’s stored grain information hub.