Crop health tool addresses new seasonal challenges

Author: | Date: 20 May 2013

Predatory beneficial mites left, the red legged earth mite, centre, and balaustium mites, right.  Photo: Pia Scanlon, DAFWA.

PestFax– a vital link in the fight to maintain Western Australia’s current levels of crop health – has resumed its free weekly service, as the new season presents a fresh set of pest and disease challenges.

The communication tool is produced by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) amd supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) via the National Invertebrate Pest Initiative (NIPI) project.

PestFax is widely read and supported by grains industry leaders including agronomists, consultants, farmers, researchers, grain marketers and retailers, with issues delivered to subscribers each Friday via email and available at

“The service helps the grains industry keep up with seasonal challenges and advises on management options relating to recurring pest and disease threats,” PestFax editor and DAFWA entomologist Peter Mangano said.

In 2012, PestFax received more than 1000 reports of pests and diseases which threatened to reduce crop yields.  

“These reports are collated into a data base called PestFax Map which is available for public viewing at,” Mr Mangano said.

“Historical records of pest and disease outbreaks for any given time period over the past 17 years can easily be searched for and viewed on the PestFax Map website, and reports can also be submitted via this website.”

Mr Mangano said seasonal weather patterns and farming systems influenced the abundance and frequency of many pests and diseases.

“This year, March rainfall in many areas of the WA grainbelt encouraged a ‘green bridge’ of plant material that hosted seasonal pests such as locusts, bryobia mites and Rutherglen bugs, and diseases such as powdery mildew and cereal rust,” he said.

“More recent winter weather patterns will soon see a different set of pests and diseases emerging and challenging crop health.”

Mr Mangano said grain growers had generally fared well with pest and disease control in recent years, with cheap and effective insecticides, fungicides and resistant or tolerant varieties combining with good management to help maintain crop health.

“However, the battle with pests and diseases is ongoing and the over-reliance on insecticides and fungicides has led to increased cases of chemical resistance and the need for more sustainable management,” he said.

“This has occurred in triazole fungicide groups for the control of powdery mildew on barley, and the main synthetic pyrethroid group of insecticides for red legged earth mite control.”

People interested in joining the more than 1500 readers and contributors to PestFax should email Mr Mangano at for a free subscription.


Caption: The identification of mites species is important to ensure appropriate control measures. Species found in grower paddocks include predatory beneficial mites left, the red legged earth mite, centre, and balaustium mites, right.  Photo: Pia Scanlon, DAFWA.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Peter Mangano, PestFax editor, DAFWA
08 9368 3753; 0404 819 534    


Natalie Lee, senior consultant, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034; 0427 189 827

GRDC Project Code CSE 00054

Region West, North, South

GRDC Project code: CSE 00054