What is this project about?

Canola is an important oilseed crop in Australia, with >8 million tonnes produced in 2023, valued at $6B. Australian-grown canola is subject to attack by at least 30 different species of invertebrate pests, causing estimated average annual loss of $54M.  Current management strategies rely on the use of pesticides and this single-technology approach has negative impacts on biodiversity, and presents an ongoing risk of pests developing resistance. Beneficials (natural enemy species, such as predators and parasitic wasps) can suppress a wide range of herbivores, and thus potentially offer a sustainable management approach if integrated into canola production systems.  But how can growers and agronomists use beneficials more to control pests in their canola fields?   

This project will research the impact of beneficial species on canola pests, and determine ways to enhance their activities in landscapes and in fields.  This 5-year project will develop tailored integrated solutions for our Australian beneficial arthropod biodiversity. 

Canola Allies program slide

Canola Allies: Know, Value, Conserve, Use

Through the project development process with GRDC we have identified four key outputs:  

  1. Delivery of knowledge on the distribution, biology, and ecology of beneficial invertebrate species that impact pests of canola. Determine how to integrate information on beneficials into a surveillance system to enable active management of beneficial species. 
  2. Estimate the impact and value of beneficials and develop implementation strategies tailored to the needs of growers.  
  3. Explore strategies to manipulate and optimise habitats to conserve beneficial species in canola landscapes. 
  4. Develop a spatially-explicit model that incorporates field, farm and regional dynamics. This will inform agripest risks and help tailor solutions to individual canola crop fields. 

Who is involved in this project?

CSIRO (the Agroecology team) is leading the project with four collaborating partners to deliver the project outcomes: WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI, and its alignment with University of Adelaide) and Murdoch University. We have collaborators on the project (e.g. Biological Services) and a diverse advisory group to help guide our work. The project is supported by GRDC (CSP2309-004RTX Minimising damage of invertebrate pests in canola through a better understanding of the impact of beneficial insects).

How can I find out more?

We are going to use this website to post our research findings and keep people up to date about how the project is progressing. Please visit often.

The project leader is Dr Sarina Macfadyen at CSIRO and you can contact her directly for more information.