During our recent trip to Winton in North West Queensland we caught up with Mayor and Advisory Board member Gavin Baskett to talk about the damage grasshoppers are doing to pasture and the local efforts to understand the extent of the problem and how it can be addressed.
Good pasture growth is disappearing virtually overnight as the grasshoppers move through the area in significant numbers. This is the third year the region’s faced this challenge which comes on the back of drought and the 2019 flood event.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) tells us the grasshoppers are wide-spread throughout 13 shires of central-western and north-western Queensland:
The biggest impact is in Winton, Flinders, Richmond, McKinlay and Longreach shires. Localised areas of significant impact have occurred in the Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo, Boulia, Cloncurry, Burke and Carpentaria shires.
There are also reports of locusts in Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo and Diamantina shires.
Approved chemical treatment
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has issued an Emergency Use Permit for the use of chemical products containing fenitrothion. The permit will allow landholders to legally use the specified chemical in accordance with the approved use instructions on the permit and product labels.
Witholding permits and export slaughter intervals apply. For more information visit the APVMA website and search for fenitrothion.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries said the control of grasshoppers is the responsibility of individual landholders. The permit will allow landholders to legally use the specified chemical in accordance with the approved use instructions on the permit and product labels, noting it is a legal obligation to follow the permit and label instructions.
Landholders will need to carefully assess the benefit, risks and cost of applying the chemical, taking into account the direct cost of the chemical.
A second Emergency Use Permit application has been submitted to the APVMA for an additional chemical control option for grasshoppers, using products containing fipronil as the active constituent.
Grasshopper Working Group
The Agency is part of the newly-formed Grasshopper Working Group and supporting efforts to understand what’s happening and address it, as it’s hindering recovery. The economic and emotional impact is troubling.
The Working Group, managed by DAF, also includes representatives from the Australian Plague Locust Commission. We will work together to identify management options and provide information to those impacted.
The group will ensure landholders have access to consistent grasshopper information, as well as legal access to chemical control options, and planning actions and research to assist with prediction and management.
Help us understand the extent of the problem
This year the problem’s happening in parallel with increased numbers of locusts in south west and central west Queensland. While there is solid knowledge about locusts, there is still much to learn about grasshoppers, including their ecology and life cycles.
Producers are urged to complete the grasshopper impact survey being conducted by DAF. The information provided is vitally important to help inform the extent of the damage, and support research into options for managing the problem.
You can complete the survey here:
Producers are also strongly encouraged to collect photos of grasshoppers on their property and report sightings to DAF on 13 25 23 or to their local biosecurity officer or extension officer.
Questions or concerns?
Local DAF extension staff will be at the Drought and Flood Agency’s Drought Community Outreach events at Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden and Winton between 15-19 March 2021.
They’ll field enquiries and discuss various aspects of your businesses. You are welcome to bring:
- grasshopper samples or photographs
- photos of plants for identification. Sometimes key identification characteristics aren’t sufficiently visible in a photo so a sample is sometimes necessary
- samples of plants you would like identified – either in a plastic bag to prevent any seed spread, or ideally pressed in newspaper
- photos of pastures and responses
- recent rainfall records (or photos of records)
You can find out more about the Drought Community Outreach events here.
Contact your local DAF officer:
0477 755 243
0436 912 349
0418 125 571
0436 836 623
0436 917 981
Advocacy for a coordinated, locally-led response
Winton Shire Mayor and Agency Advisory Board member Gavin Baskett continues to advocate for a coordinated response and keeps us well informed of local conditions.
He says while there’s no easy solution, the formation of the Grasshopper Working Group, is an important development.