Insect contamination in fresh and processed produce is a significant recurring problem for leafy vegetable growers and processors.
Why study this?
Insect contamination causes rejections and lost sales for growers, adds cost for processors and results in bad publicity for retailers.
This project aims to develop and assess better ways of reducing insect contamination in the field and in the factory to reduce those problems.
What was done
The project has assessed the effectiveness of low-toxicity insect deterrent field sprays in Queensland and Victoria, babyleaf harvester modifications, and insect traps in the field.
What we found
Rotating drums were found to effectively remove about 60 percent of insects. Harvester modifications were effective at removing insects. Field sprays and floating row covers are being further investigated.
Where to next?
The project is due for completion by the end of 2015, and as of January 2015 is in its second year of testing, with monitoring of insect levels, trials on floating row covers, and further factory assessments planned.
Upon completion, the project will produce a guide for growers explaining how to reduce insect contamination depending on the crop, insect and insect population.
For more information contact
Dr Gordon Rogers, Applied Horticultural Research Pty Ltd