Grain protectants build barrier against storage pests

Author: | Date: 07 Dec 2016

Growers planning to store grain in unsealed storages after this year’s harvest are being encouraged to consider using grain protectants to reduce the risk of insect pest infestations.

Photo: Chris Stacey

Growers planning to store grain in unsealed storages after this year’s harvest are being encouraged to consider using grain protectants to reduce the risk of insect pest infestations.

The use of protectants combined with meticulous hygiene and aeration cooling are especially useful in storages which are not gas-tight and therefore cannot be fumigated effectively.

Grain storage specialist for the southern cropping region, Peter Botta, says grain protectants are designed to prevent pest infestations – not to control existing infestations.

“A common misunderstanding is that grain protectants kill insects already infesting the grain, but those types of products (contact disinfestants) are no longer available for on-farm use,” says Mr Botta, whose work is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

“Therefore, grain must be clean and free of pests before applying a protectant.”

In order to give protectants the best chance to defend stored grain, meticulous storage hygiene practices before and after harvest are required.

Mr Botta says cleaning storage sites and harvesting equipment removes harbours where pests can survive, ready to infest the new season’s grain. The addition of aeration cooling also provides an unattractive environment for pests in stored grain.

He reminds growers to always read the chemical label before choosing a protectant to ensure it is registered for use on the grain to which they intend to apply the product and that it will target the main insects commonly found in their storage.

As a general guide, protectants are only registered for use on cereal grains and only some (not all) of those protectant products are registered for use on malting barley, rice and maize. No protectants are registered for use on pulses and oilseeds.

Before considering application of a grain protectant, Mr Botta implores growers to fully understand the requirements of the targeted markets for their grain.

“Some buyers – domestic and overseas – will not take grain that has had protectants applied, so it is critical that growers know in advance what those market specifications are so they aren’t limiting their selling options,” he says.

If targeting markets which accept grain that has been treated with a protectant, knowing the maximum residue limits (MRLs) of those markets is also essential.

“As grain markets have become less tolerant to protectants and maximum residue limits (MRLs) are monitored scrupulously, accurate application in terms of the correct rate and spread is vital.”

Commodity vendor declarations are also used in many cases to ensure a parcel of grain is only subjected to one application of the protectant to avoid exceeding the MRL.

Some protectants start deteriorating 48 hours after being mixed with water so growers should avoid leaving prepared protectants for long periods before applying to grain. The product label will also indicate the anticipated effective life of the protectant on the grain.

The effective life of protectants is shortened if applied to grain above 12 per cent moisture content and at temperatures above 27°C, or if treated grain is exposed to direct sunlight which can occur at the end of a shed or in an open bunker.

Further information on grain protectants is available from the GRDC’s Stored Grain Information Hub at

The GRDC’s Stored Grain National Information Hotline is also available to help growers with all their grain storage investments and practices. By phoning 1800 WEEVIL (1800 933 845) growers will be put in contact with their nearest grain storage specialist.

To support growers with their on-farm grain storage preparations, the GRDC has released a Stored Grain app for iPhones and iPads. It can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store, or via the GRDC Apps page.

For South Australian growers, more information on grain quality and hygiene requirements is available online at, a resource developed as part of the Keep Our Grain Clean campaign which has been established by the SA Grain Market Access Group to highlight the importance of continued grain hygiene to enable continued access to international and domestic markets.

The SA Grain Market Access Group, headed by the Grain Industry Association of SA (GIASA) which represents all grain marketing organisations in the State, is supported by grower advocacy group Grain Producers SA (GPSA), Grain Growers Ltd, the state’s largest bulk handler Viterra, Grain Corp, the SA Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT), the GRDC, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), and fodder industry and independent agronomy consultants.

For Interviews

Peter Botta, PCB Consulting
0417 501890


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

Region South

GRDC Project code: PRB00001