Project VG18004 was facilitated by Hortigrow Consulting in partnership with Hort Innovation.

Major findings

Hort Innovation uses a Strategic Agrichemical Review Process (SARP) to undertake regular reviews of the pesticide requirements for crops. Project VG18004 produced seven new SARP reports, and 18 updated reports compiled by the Canberra-based Hortigrow Consulting during 2019-2020.

The reports contain a comprehensive list of the current pesticide control options for each vegetable type, outlining specific uses and any associated risks such as regulatory or Integrated Pest Management (IPM) issues.

“The information was collated via a desktop audit and an industry liaison component to identify major concerns,” project facilitator Dr Vasanthe Vithanage explained.

“Against these threats, the availability and overall suitability of chemical control tools was then evaluated in terms of IPM, resistance, efficacy, trade, human safety and environmental issues.”

Where tools are unavailable or unsuitable, the process aimed to identify suitable new or alternative pesticides to address those gaps. Dr Vithanage says each industry’s SARP report will also assist with ongoing efforts to overcome issues regarding access to effective chemical controls.

“This may relate to pursuing chemical registration with agrichemical companies or minor use permits with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority,” he explained.

Examples of possible justification for future permit applications include:

  • The identification of a new disease, insect or weed as a cropping issue.
  • Insufficient options for resistance management or export approval.
  • IPM, environment or Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) issues.
  • Opportunity to extrapolate a use pattern when a new, effective pesticide is registered in another crop.
  • Insufficient return on investment for registrant.


All recommendations are contained within the individual SARP reports produced by the project. However, each report should not be considered a comprehensive assessment of all pests and control methods used in the industry.

“The reports attempt to prioritise the major problems, establish what products are available or under development, and identify any gaps in existing pest control options regarding lack of availability or insufficient short to medium-term control options,” Dr Vithanage said.

New opportunities would ideally involve:

  • Better IPM strategies that use a combination of cultural practices and work in harmony to keep ahead of insect resistance to chemicals while posing the least amount of risk.
  • Novel biopesticides such as non-toxic bacterial treatment, which specifically targets certain pests such as caterpillars, but is safe for beneficial insects.
  • Improved approaches to pest and disease management (lures, sterile-male pest release techniques and the use of semiochemicals (e.g. pheromones and ‘softer’ chemicals).

Alternative pesticides should ideally be selected for benefits of:

  • IPM compatibility.
  • Improved scope for resistance management.
  • Residue and trade acceptance both domestically and for export.

The SARP reports have been presented in a digital format that will enable the data to be updated as new information becomes available in the future.


The horticulture industry faces constant challenges surrounding pest control, whether it be access to registered or permit-approved chemicals, pest chemical resistance, the threat of overseas pest entry, or market calls for chemical-free produce.

As a result, growers need a strategic outlook that directs ongoing efforts towards ensuring the availability of effective control tools that contribute to a productive, profitable and competitive industry.

Project VG18004 provided a current update on the priorities and gaps regarding insect, disease and weed control for each of the nine crop groups (25 vegetable crops).

Collectively, the SARP reports will be a road map for industry stakeholders to plan for pest control in the near future and allocate levy investment resources for maximum gains. Exotic plant pests not present in Australia are addressed in a separate biosecurity plan that has been developed for the vegetable industry in consultation with industry, government and scientists.


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

Further information

The current SARP reports for the vegetable industry can be downloaded from the Hort Innovation website by clicking here.

The final report for this project is available to download from the AUSVEG InfoVeg database.

For more details, please contact Dr Vasanthe Vithanage on 0414 437 801 or email

This story appeared in Vegenotes 85 (Winter 2022). View the print version here.