Farm clean-up brings big benefits

News release
07 February 2019

Silverleaf nightshade

Growers across the Northern Adelaide Plains can now benefit from targeted help to improve crop health and to increase sustainable production with higher yields.

Clean Your Farm is a new initiative from AUSVEG SA together with Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, and Primary Industries and Regions SA.

The initiative aims to raise awareness of the key sources of risk for vegetable diseases and pests, says Taryn Mangelsdorf, who is Sustainable Agriculture Officer with Natural Resources AMLR.

Protecting crops and income

Clean Your Farm aims to ensure good on-farm biosecurity practices so that growers can better protect both their produce and their income,” Ms Mangelsdorf said.

“Many fruit and vegetable growers are looking for the ‘one percentage’ changes to make a difference to the bottom line.

“This approach targets the issues of high pest and virus pressure, losses in yield and quality, decline in productivity and use of pesticides,” she said.

The Clean Your Farm initiative will focus on two key areas: weed control, and vehicle and machinery hygiene with movement across properties.

Controlling weeds helps crops have better access to nutrients and water, while keeping farm vehicles and machinery clean reduces the spread of insect pests, soil borne nematodes and diseases across the property.

Clean garden

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges District Officer David Hughes said that a clean home garden was just as important as a clean farm.

“Weeds provide the perfect place for pest insects to live. So weeds near your garden or fruit trees can increase the risk of pest insect infestation on your crops and can damage flowers, leaves and fruit,” Mr Hughes said.

“The good news is these pests don’t like to hang around native plants, so you might consider replacing weeds growing near gardens and orchards with native plants to help keep your property ‘clean’.”

Silverleaf Nightshade alert

Mr Hughes said a weed to watch out for now, and to clean up, is Silver leaf Nightshade Solanum elaeagnifolium. A deep-rooted, difficult to control, shrub-like perennial plant, this weed survives off its rootstock during the winter.

Silverleaf Nightshade belongs to the same family (Solanaceae) as tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and capsicum and as a result, harbors many of the same insect pests and diseases. These include thrips and the Tobamo group of viruses, a serious problem in the horticulture industry.

It is critically important to control this weed, says Mr Hughes.

“New buds can develop on the roots, which can penetrate to 3m deep, resulting in massive re-growth after cultivation.

“The aim of the initiative is to have cleaner properties, plus reduced and more targeted use of chemicals. This saves time and money with improved crop health and increased sustainable production levels, with healthier plants and higher yields.”

Contact the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources office at Gawler for more information.

Related links

More information

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges