Russian wheat aphid on the hit list at major grains research forum

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 24 Jan 2017

photo of keith pengilleyGRDC Southern Regional Panel chair, Keith Pengilley, says a “war room” briefing on Russian wheat aphid at this year’s GRDC Bendigo Grains Research Update is likely to be of enormous interest to those attending.

One of the world’s leading Russian wheat aphid (RWA) research experts will visit Victoria next month to offer his knowledge and insights on management of one of the State’s newest broad acre cropping pest.

Frank Peairs, Professor of Entomology in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University in the United States, will headline a RWA “war room” briefing at a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Update at Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre on February 21-22.

First detected in Australia during May 2016, RWA quickly became relatively widespread across SA and Victorian grain-growing areas and has also been detected in southern New South Wales and more recently Tasmania.

Dr Peairs, who has extensive RWA research experience and is a widely-published author on the topic, will relay the latest understandings and lessons to come out of the US where RWA is an established cropping pest.

The RWA briefing and question and answer panel session will also feature cesar entomologist Paul Umina who will provide an update on the spread of RWA over the course of the 2016 cropping season and a discussion on what may happen in 2017.

Dennis Patten from Peracto will report on the most recent results from the GRDC-funded trials on RWA foliar-applied insecticide control options.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley says RWA has been a hot topic within the Victorian grains industry since its detection, and the briefing at this year’s Update is likely to be of enormous interest to those attending.

“When RWA was first discovered in Australia, we really did not know how it would behave under local conditions and what impact it would have on the cropping landscape,” Mr Pengilley said.

“We were confronted with so many unknowns at the time, but since then the GRDC, its research partners and other agencies have been working hard to develop an improved understanding of the pest’s behaviour and suitable integrated management approaches.

“It will be important to relay this new knowledge to growers and their advisers ahead of the 2017 cropping season,” Mr Pengilley said.

RWA will be just one of many key topics to be addressed at the next month’s Update which will act as a launch pad for the coming season.

“In addition to the arrival of RWA, season 2016 presented an incredible amount of challenges but also opportunities for Victorian growers – the joy of producing high-yielding crops thanks to above-average growing season rainfall was tempered by low prices for cereals and weather damage in parts,” Mr Pengilley said.

“There was a lot to learn from last year, and those experiences and learnings will be factored into this year’s Bendigo Update so growers and advisers can be on the front foot should issues arise this year,”

With the theme of “adaptable systems – achieving results”, the Update will be attended by hundreds of agronomists, consultants, researchers, growers and other grains industry personnel committed to ensuring the State’s cropping sector remains profitable into the future.

Keynote speakers on day one will include CSIRO senior farming systems agronomist John Kirkegaard who will discuss opportunities and challenges for continuous cropping systems, while Crop Protection Australia director Rohan Rainbow will address some of the key issues facing the grains industry in terms of chemical residues and grain contamination.

Peter Newman from the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative will provide an update on the war on herbicide resistance, focusing on non-herbicide approaches and promising new tactics being uncovered by research.

Relevant agronomic issues to be covered on day one include the impacts of a wet season on crop nutrition, strategic tillage, the effect of controlled traffic farming on nitrous oxide emissions, new developments with pulse breeding and agronomy, seasonal forecasts, and an update on pre-emergent herbicide research.

Other day one topics include the diseases likely to affect pulse, canola and barley crops in 2017, stubble management guidelines, measuring soil nitrate “on the go”, economic analysis of the Longerenong SCRIME long-term rotation trial, and emerging research from PhD students.

In addition to the RWA briefing, day two’s proceedings will feature presentations on topics such as emerging problem weeds, living with fungicide resistance, producing marketable hay in a cropping rotation, wheat disease threats, advanced canola management, and the latest research on millipedes and slaters.

Other day two topics include key messages from the Grain and Graze project, the key drivers for high-end irrigation yields, maximising the nitrogen benefits of pulses, effective and practical use of precision technology, understanding biological farming inputs, and improving communication between growers and advisers.

For a detailed program and to register for the event please visit the GRDC Update Dates page or phone ORM on 03 5441 6176 or email

For Interviews

Keith Pengilley, GRDC Southern Panel

0448 015539

Matt McCarthy, ORM

(03) 5441 6176


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli

0409 675100

Region South