BUG CHECKERS might soon have one less job in the cotton paddock with a pheromone trap for mirids on the cusp of commercialisation.
Each year the sap-sucking green mirid bug causes tens of millions of dollars damage to Australian cotton crops.
Best practice management of the pest involves applying pesticides when an economic threshold reached.
The threshold is based on a sample of pest numbers in the field, usually achieved through time-consuming visual field scouting by bug checkers and agronomists.
However, cotton farmers will soon have access to a pheromone lure, which acts as a chemical attractant to the mirids, enabling the use of simple traps to monitor fields.
The announcement, by the University of New England, said a pheromone developed by UNE researchers is on the pathway to commercialisation following a successful licencing arrangement with EcoKimiko IPM.
UNE said while original identification of the pheromone, conducted by PhD student, Samuel Lowor, occurred in the early 2000’s, it had taken significant time and effort to reach the point of commercialisation.
“Dr Lower’s supervisors at UNE, Dr Alice Del Socorro and Professor Peter Gregg, with support from the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, later worked on ways to use the information gained from traps baited with the lures for pest management,” it said.
“They encountered issues with incorporating the volatile pheromone in lures, but eventually found a lure manufacturer in the United States able to formulate the pheromone to enable its controlled release.
“Lack of a suitable Australian supplier led to them to commercialise it through a company they established, EcoKimiko.”
Professor Gregg believes despite the effectiveness of the lure, it is unlikely to make a fortune.
“We will sell only a few thousand lures each year for a few dollars each,” he said.
“There is no export potential, the green mirid is restricted to Australia.
“However, we see the commercial development of innovative products like this as a step in establishing both EcoKimiko and UNE as leaders in developing solutions in behavioural manipulation for management of agricultural pests.”
UNE, deputy vice-chancellor research, Professor Heiko Daniel said the research and commercialisation was an example of returning value to industry.
“You look on this as a good example of research with end-user impact, returning value to the Australian cotton industry for its investment in long-term research,” he said.
“While the University has continued to support the patent itself, it is industry which will benefit from effective monitoring to perfectly time a scaled application of insecticide, while at the same time reducing the impact on the environment.”