New active from BASF – Afidopyropen

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has registered a new active which is set to control aphids and silverleaf whitefly in vegetables, ornamentals and cotton. The mode of action disrupts the vanilloid-type transient receptors (TRPV) leading to disruption of feeding and balance, causing disorientation and starving. Afidopyropen (to be marketed as Versys) is a Group 9D insecticide.

There are currently no overseas registrations however there are concurrent submissions for registration in the USA, Canada and Mexico. It is unusual for Australia to be ‘first cab off the rank’ with new chemistry registrations; however BASF has been favouring Australia due to a 6% lift in our Asia-Pacific sales which exceeded their expectations, despite a less than optimal growing season. BASF view Australian farmers as “early adopters to innovation”, according to Markus Heldt in a recent interview.

The registration allows Versys to be used in brassicas, leafy brassicas, celery, cucurbits, fruiting vegetables, leafy vegetables, lettuce, potato, sweet potato, cotton, ginger and ornamentals. Versys will officially launch at the Hort Connections conference in Brisbane which runs from 18-20 June 2018.

To see a copy of the label, click HERE.

Science reveals scary hybrid of two voracious pests

What could be worse than a hungry caterpillar species with pesticide resistance? An even more resistant hybrid of two caterpillar species! Australian scientists at CSIRO have confirmed the cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera) and the corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) have hybridised to create a voracious caterpillar in Brazil that’s likely to be highly resistant to pesticides.

Infopest lists close to 100 different active ingredients from 12 modes of action available for use on Heliothis caterpillars in various crops. Obviously these options are specified for the Australian market but one could assume similar options would also exist in Brazil. The hybrid caterpillar poses no immediate threat to Australia but with the amount of global trade happening, there is always the possibility of this becoming a global pest.

To learn more, click HERE.



Glyphosate again under fire

In a recent statement, Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge, said “no regulatory body in the world has concluded that glyphosate causes cancer”. He said independent reports found that the International Agency for Research on Cancer had used “flawed and incomplete science” to reach a contrary conclusion.

Despite this, the chemical juggernaut, Monsanto, is once again battling the courts over glyphosate, the active ingredient in their popular herbicide Roundup.

On 19 April, a court of appeal backed the State of California’s push to list glyphosate as a possible cause of cancer and enforce the state’s prohibition against discharging it into public waterways. Monsanto, with the backing of agricultural groups, challenged the listing in both State and Federal courts, claiming the state was illegally delegating lawmaking powers to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monsanto’s challenge was unsuccessful.

To read more, click HERE

Bees in the news

Our precious pollinators have received a lot of media attention of late, between declarations that pesticides are having a detrimental effect on global bee populations to using them as vectors for delivering beneficial microbes.

The ongoing debate over the use of pesticides from the neonicotinoid group continues in the European Union.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently affirmed that most uses of pesticides in the neonicotinoid group pose a risk to bee health. EFSA’s new assessment includes wild bees such as bumblebees and solitary bees as well as honey bees. As with the previous assessments, exposure of bees to the substances was assessed via three routes: residues in bee pollen and nectar; dust drift during the sowing/application of the treated seeds; and water consumption. The conclusions made by the EFSA Pesticides Unit update those published in 2013. After a vote from its members, the EU has planned to ban all outdoor uses of neonicotinoids. To learn more, click HERE

Pesticide giant Bayer disagrees with EFSA’s updated risk assessment, claiming the guidance document used was unworkable and biased towards finding risk. On this basis, Bayer claim that EFSA’s new conclusions should not be used to justify further restrictions on the use of: imidacloprid, clothianidin or thiamethoxam; products with uses banned on flowering field crops such as corn; sunflower; and rapeseed. U.S. and Canadian regulators have determined there is no need for a total neonicotinoid-use ban, although imposing certain use restrictions is needed. Seed treatment is still permitted and deemed unlikely to affect bees.

The Australian media are running stories on bee keepers seeking a similar ban here. To read more, click HERE

Meanwhile, in a joint study with Exeter University and Rothamsted Research, Bayer has discovered enzymes in honey bees and bumblebees that determine how sensitive they are to different neonicotinoids. Bayer is confident  the knowledge gained from this study will enable the company to design bee-friendly insecticides that are more targeted. To read more click HERE

So what does this mean for neonicotinoid-use here in Australia? Our own regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), has reached their conclusions using “a risk-based, weight-of-evidence assessment, which considers the full range of risks and takes into account studies of the environment—and how these risks can be minimised through instructions for use and safety directions”. The APVMA concluded in 2016 that, “all neonicotinoids registered for use in Australia have been through this robust chemical risk assessment process and are safe to use—provided they are used as per the label instructions”. To read more, click HERE .

In other news, Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT) has applied for two new patents in the US and Israel. BVT uses pollinators such as bumblebees to deliver their own unique beneficial microbe, Clonostachys rosea, which has a broad spectrum of control for various plant pathogens. The bees live their normal life, entering and exiting the hive via a specially designed tray containing the bio-control powder CR7 which the bees pick up on their legs, distributing it to the flowers they visit and thus blocking disease in the crop. BVT claims as little as one teaspoon of the active gets delivered to the target crop, thus reducing pesticide use and effectively protecting the crop from various diseases to increase yield. BVT have identified several other microbes they will be evaluating to fit with their system. Fifteen patents have been approved worldwide for their revolutionary bee vectoring technology.

It’s great to see the practical ways in which bees can be put to use, pollinating and delivering beneficial microbes. Bee health is important to fruit and vegetable production due to pollination and no one can afford to be casual in their assessment of pesticide-use or take pollinators for granted. To read more, click HERE


Federal Grant money issued to fund AgChem research projects

A total of $1.78 million in assistance grants has been issued to several research and development corporations (RDCs) under the Federal Government’s Access to Industry Uses of Agricultural and Veterinary (Agvet) Chemicals programme. Hort Innovation has secured more than $1 million of the total funding.

Initially, RDCs undertook a plant pest prioritisation process with the industries they represent and met with chemical registrants to discuss chemical solutions to the industry issues. As a result, projects were submitted by the RDCs to the Federal Government which then awarded grants to assist with residue and efficacy data generation for proposed label uses. These label uses will be assessed by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for the purposes of registration.

Any chemical product used for agriculture must be registered with the APVMA, and that is only possible through the provision of scientific evidence that chemical residues are at appropriate levels. These assistance grants will help to provide that scientific evidence.


Pest spotted – Citrus Canker

Citrus Canker was recently detected in the Northern Territory on a home citrus pot plant.

The disease was last detected in Emerald Queensland in 2004 and in the Northern Territory in the early 1990s. It is a very serious disease of citrus and reduces the health of the plant, causing a decline in plant vigour and ability to produce quality fruit.

Its presence in Australia may affect export markets, although authorities have been able to eradicate the disease in the past and are in a good position to eradicate it again.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has issued a Movement Control Order (MCO) notice for citrus canker and carriers to prevent it from spreading into Queensland’s produce areas. TO read the MCO notice, click HERE .

Citrus Canker is spread by wind, rain and movement of plants by people. It is contagious, affecting citrus and some other plant species of the Rutacea family, caused by the bacteria Xanthomonas citri. Infected trees display ugly lesions which form on the leaves fruit and stems. Once infected, plant destruction is the only method of removing it.

To protect your farm you can undertake the follow steps:

  1. To avoid introducing citrus canker onto your property, establish new plantings with healthy plant material from reputable nurseries that use Auscitrus seed and budwood, which is routinely tested for a range of diseases. Check the receipt of any new plants to see they are pest and disease free. If citrus canker is detected, isolate suspect nursery stock from healthy plants until official checks are completed.
  2. Keep your farm clean. Use good sanitation and hygiene practices. Remember that workers, visitors, vehicles and equipment can spread diseases. Make sure equipment is clean before it enters your farm.
  3. If you have been to an overseas country that has citrus canker, do not wear your travel clothes into your orchard until after they have been washed in hot soapy water.

Make sure that you and your farm workers are familiar with the symptoms of citrus canker. Regularly check your orchard and report any unusual or unfamiliar symptoms.

The Citrus Canker hotline is 1800 931 722 and you can email photos to

For further information on the disease from Plant Health Australia, visit


APVMA considers home garden Cane Toad Killer Containing 112 g/L Eugenol

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) are currently seeking comment on an application from Amgrow Pty Ltd for the humane control of cane toads in the home garden using the active constituent, eugenol.

So what is eugenol? According to Wikipedia, “eugenol is a member of the phenylpropanoids class of chemical compounds. It is a colourless to pale yellow, aromatic oily liquid extracted from certain essential oils especially from clove oilnutmegcinnamonbasil and bay leaf”. Eugenol has a number of uses but Infopest lists only three in the form of isoeugenol (a fish anaesthetic) and two permits with methyl eugenol as part of fruit fly baiting.

Infopest has previously posted on social media about tadpole traps being used to lure young cane toads into a semi-submerged container in water ways using the animal’s own venom. However, the application of eugenol is for adult toads and presumably is applied with a hand held spray device.

According to the APVMA’s gazetted article, three laboratory trials were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of eugenol for the control of Cane toads (Bufo marinas). The concentrations of eugenol tested included the proposed label rate, half the label rate and twice the label rate applied at 2.5 mL/toad.

The effect on toads was tested by the time it took for them to reach four separate stages: Stage one–light sedation; Stage two–deep sedation; Stage three–anesthetised; and Stage four–euthanasia.

Toad size had an impact on the time and pattern of progression to euthanasia. Small toads progressed to euthanasia faster than medium and large sized toads, while the stress factor had little effect. Time to death decreased as the concentration of eugenol increased. The toads did not react to the spray and were not irritated by eugenol.

The trial results demonstrated that Toad Blitz Cane Toad Killer is effective.

Anyone wishing to make a submission for Toad Blitz Cane Toad Killer to be registered should read the APVMA’s gazetted advice on Page 33. To read more, click HERE


World-first bio-pesticide made in Australia

A regional Australian company is developing an innovative new bio-pesticide that is set to transform food and fibre production globally.

Fifteen-years in the making, Sero-X® is a world-first product developed by Innovate Ag, based in Wee Waa, in collaboration with major Australian research organisations.

Sero-X is a world-first bio-insecticide that has been discovered and developed in Australia for global export. It’s an economic, nature- driven, form of pest control for Australian Agriculture that can help deliver environmentally sustainable and ethical agriculture.

According to Innovate Ag’s Project Director, Nick Watts, Sero-X® is safe for animals, humans and non-target insects, and does not have any toxic residue.

“The secret behind this innovative product comes straight from nature itself in the form of cyclotides,” Mr Watts said.

“Cyclotides are peptides, or mini-proteins, that are naturally found in plants and have a range of biological activities, including insecticidal and antimicrobial. They also have great pharmaceutical potential.”

Through an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Innovate Ag partnered with researchers from The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience to assist in the development of this innovative new biopesticide.

Innovate Ag has also secured international investment from Belgium based company, Bi-PA. The partnership with Bi-PA will allow Innovate Ag to fast track the development of Sero-X® for cotton and other crops and support continued collaboration with Australia’s research institutions.

Bi-PA will develop and register the product outside Australia & New Zealand. Market access is planned through Bi-PA’s shareholders: Belchim for Europe, Amvac for the Americas and Unifert for the Middle-East/North Africa.

For more information, visit

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