Dr Warren King says black beetle can be managed with the use of ryegrass cultivars containing the novel endophyte AR37.
The African black beetle, which arrived from South Africa via Australia early last century, is causing increasing damage to northern North Island pastures.
Senior Scientist Dr Warren King is leading research at the Tokanui Dairy Research farm on pasture persistence and pasture renovation.
A string of very dry summers and autumns over the last three years has contributed to higher black beetle numbers especially on lighter soil types such as ash and peat. As many as 95 black beetles per square metre have been seen. 30 or more is typical, but any more than 20 is a concern.
The best way for farmers to manage black beetle infestations by using a combination of pasture management, coated seed and ryegrass cultivars containing the novel endophyte AR37. Insecticide-coated seed provides protection at a critical time; the grass is germinating at a time when
the black beetle adults have just emerged from the soil. Novel endophytes have been shown to give protection against other pests such as Argentine stem weevil.
Funded by MAF’s Sustainable Farming Fund and co-funded by DairyNZ and Ballance Agri-Nutrients the project involves 20 farms, 10 in the Bay of Plenty and 10 in the Waikato.