Reaching New Heights
Friday, November 30, 2018
Remote control technology is offering growers of taller crops a better way to release predators. This follows the successful trial applications of biological predators on large avocado farms in Western Australia earlier this year.
We first collaborated with the Yamaha Motor Australia Sky Division 18 months ago to release predatory mites by handcontrolled helicopter to control pests in corn, in Narrabri, NSW. More recently, a new trial was designed to release predatory mites on taller tree crops located in more challenging terrain.
Biological Services’ Lachlan Chilman says the most recent trial was the release of predators in an attempt to control six-spotted mites on avocado farms in Pemberton, Western Australia. Six-spotted mites are a relatively new pest to the area and applying beneficials to a crop like avocado presents a logistical challenge for growers.
“It’s not like strawberries where you can release the predators quite easily by hand. These trees are 6-8 metres tall and it’s a large acreage. Putting them out manually with a cherry picker is possible, but very difficult,” Lachlan said.
A GPS controlled Yamaha Fazer R G2 was used to release the predatory mites in a vermiculite carrier from a controlled height, taking just a few minutes to cover each hectare.
The helicopter delivered a 4 metre-wide release swath over each row of trees, resulting in an even distribution.
With the ability to carry a payload of 35L and a running time of up to 90 minutes, large farms can benefit significantly by increasing their release efficiency both in time taken and evenness of release.
We expect this method to have spin offs for other crops where release is either difficult, time consuming or both.