Pests and diseases
Pests and diseases can damage forage crops if they are not dealt with soon after a problem is identified.
Forage crops should be inspected regularly, particularly during high risk periods such as late summer and autumn, for pests such as:
- Redlegged earth mite
- Plaque locusts
Disease and deficiencies pose a similar risk to fodder crops that pests do and should be monitored when checking crops for pests. Diseases can generally be classified as leaf diseases eg rusts, or root diseases eg wilt.
Integrated pest management
Integrated pest management (IPM) involves using a combination of biological, physical and chemical control methods to control pests. As beneficial insects are a key component of IPM, the use of insecticides is minimised, but not excluded altogether.
The first step in IPM is for a producer to identify and understand the lifecycle of the pests and beneficial insects in their area. A plan can then be put in place to manage the populations of both beneficial and pest insects. This broader whole-farm approach to IPM should be considered when selecting the most appropriate forage crop for a particular enterprise.
Once a plan has been developed for a particular forage crop, careful and ongoing monitoring is then required to ensure that a favourable population of beneficial insects is maintained and pests are kept under control. Corrective actions, such as slashing adjacent pastures to encourage beneficial insects to enter a forage crop or spraying can then be undertaken when pest numbers threaten to impact forage crop production.
Disease and deficiencies pose a similar risk to forage crops as pests do and these should be monitored when checking for pests. Diseases can generally be classified as leaf eg rusts, or root diseases eg root rot.
Management for disease control should be both proactive and reactive. Proactive control begins with forage crop selection and takes into consideration paddock and disease history. If a particular disease has been a problem in the past, a forage crop that is resistant to that disease should be selected.
Reactive disease control involves managing outbreaks and may include strategic grazing and chemical application.
Vendor declarations, withholding periods and grazing intervals
If fodder is being produced for sale, a fodder vendor declaration or commodity vendor declaration (CVD) should be completed and accompany the hay when sold.
Producers must ensure that all withholding periods (WHP) and export grazing intervals (EGI) are observed when grazing forage crops that have been treated with chemicals.