Project VG16067 was a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland; the South Australian Research and Development Institute; and IPM Technologies.

Major findings

Project VG16067 developed a series of crop-specific guides for growers and advisors wanting to use or give advice on integrated pest management (IPM). These guides focus particularly on the impact of pesticides on beneficial species present in Australia.

Seven crop-specific guides were developed. These were for brassicas, cucurbits and fruiting vegetables; leafy vegetables and head lettuce; legume vegetables; root and tuber vegetables; stalk and stem vegetables; and sweet corn.

“From the outset, the aim of the project was to present the information in a way that is clear, concise and practical for the target audience,” Project Lead and entomologist Jessica Page explained.

“The guides contain information on the beneficials relevant to the crop type and only for the products with a current registration in that crop.” Presented in the guides is the mortality of each species on a sliding scale from zero to 100 per cent, shown for each active ingredient. The same information is also presented by trade name.

“The aim of the guides was not to create a list of good/bad or safe/not safe products, but was instead to show a relative ranking of products. The guides are meant to be used as a tool for making more informed decisions on pesticide use within an IPM strategy,” Page said.

“There are many pesticides available now that are IPM compatible, in that they are not broad-spectrum products that wipe out all beneficial species – but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are safe to everything.

“It’s mainly these products that we were interested in testing, because the effects on beneficial species can vary a lot. The same product could be completely safe to use in one crop, but highly disruptive in another depending on which beneficial species are important.”

The guides are there to provide this information on the range of toxicity to beneficials so that informed decisions can be made on how to get the best out of selective IPM compatible products by using them to support biological control; and when the only option is to use a product that is toxic to beneficials it helps to know what the potential consequences might be.

“Using IPM is often considered more difficult than using a spray program and, for this reason, it often ends up being used only as a last resort. These guides are there to help make IPM easy; they tell you which beneficials are important in each crop, what they look like and how to choose products with the least impact. I highly recommend any vegetable grower interested in using IPM to download the guides from the AUSVEG website,” Page said.


Prior to this research, most of the information available was produced overseas. Because the beneficial species present in Australia are different to those in other parts of the world, new research was needed to provide information for Australian growers.

“From working with growers and agronomists for many years, it became clear that one of the biggest challenges for using IPM successfully is understanding the effects that pesticides can have on beneficial species. Some of this information is available from overseas, but it is mainly produced for protected cropping and includes beneficial species that are not present in Australia,” Page said.

“The information from overseas is also presented in a way that is not readily accessible for Australian growers and advisors wanting to make a quick decision on which product to use. So, this project was undertaken to address this issue.”

The project was a three-year collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland; the South Australian Research and Development Institute; and IPM Technologies. It began by identifying the key beneficials found in the different Australian vegetable crops and then collating the information already known about the effects of pesticides on these species.

Gaps in information were found and these were filled by the research team conducting their own laboratory testing. A protocol was developed to test acute toxicity. It involved exposing the different species to a product for 24 or 48 hours in treated petri-dishes.

For some products that showed very low acute toxicity, the team carried out sub-lethal testing. Sub-lethal pesticide effects can impact populations of beneficial species by reducing egg production or preventing them from reaching the adult stage. The final stage of the project was producing the guides.


This project was funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government.

Further information

Please contact Jessica Page at

The crop-specific guides are now available to download and print from the AUSVEG website.

The final report for this project is available to read by clicking here.

Cover photo: A juvenile ladybird. Image courtesy of IPM Technologies.


This story first appeared in Vegenotes 80 – Autumn 2021. To read this and more, please visit the AUSVEG publications page.