Alpine Alstonville has been developing IPM for about 5 years and no two years are the same due to environmental conditions, crop dynamics, pest/beneficial occurrences and other unsolved mysteries.  Working IPM in a fully functioning large production nursery provides the environment, its staff and the bottom line with advantages.  This is just an overview of one of our many management practices that is a mere component of Alpine Astonville’s success.

Firstly IPM cannot be run via a textbook but is dominated by the site and crops grown.  However the same basic principles still apply and are the basis of any program, this is the basics of what we do:


  • The relatively fast turn-around of the smaller pot range (140mm-300mm) has the advantage of reduced time of certain pest/disease incursions.
  • Scheduled crop maintenance (pruning,staking,routing) encourages plant growth and vigour helping it to resist attack.
  • Plant spacing has been adjusted for certain crops for maximum airflow (reduces fungal attack), light (sustained growth) and spray droplet access for fungicides for example.
  • Crop grouping for both water usage and pest/beneficial preference.
  • Also Myrtaceae plants grouped together for fungicide sprays.


  • Removal of disease infected material and burned.
  • Exclusion of disease susceptible varieties from plant list.
  • Removal of susceptible stock plants, which aren’t economically important for propagation.


  • Predatory insects are observed and nurtured, beginning in the tubestock area after propagation.
  • 95% of predatory insects established for our IPM are naturally occurring, while some have been purchased eg Persimilis for Two Spotted Mite.
  • The key to this method is regular monitoring, correct identification and recording of beneficials and pests.  Using safe fungicides/pesticides that are less harmful to predators.
  • Observing new beneficials and researching their life cycles and hosts (pests) to see if they will play a part in the program.
  • Different nursery sites will harbour different predators depending on surrounding bushland or neighbouring agriculture.
  • Another key is to wait that little bit longer before you jump into chemical spraying if you have observed some beneficial activity.
  • However economic threshold limits will apply.
  • We have different thresholds for different crops.  Eg if  smaller pot batch (fast growing line) is roped off for pre sale the threshold will be lower than a semi mature crop that sits for longer where a negligible amount of damage is acceptable, which can be pruned later.  This then allows the predatory insects to multiply and spread.
  • Beneficial insects work 24/7 and don’t ask for a wage.  They will always be there so long as there is the right environment.  Better for long term management.
  • Our surrounding environment also harbours water dragons, many bird species and other naturally occurring predators to add to the biodiversity of the site.


  • We have sectioned off an area for bought in tubestock that comes in to be inspected and monitored for a time, then sprayed or rejected if necessary before being sent out into the nursery.
  • Tubestock suppliers changed if continually receiving low quality or infected plants.


  • Chemical use is limited to major pest incursions and then only spot sprayed on problem areas.
  • Also by monitoring you pick up problems early, which is a key process.
  • Soft chemicals such as oils and Azamax are used for certain problems while harder chemicals are sometimes needed for leaf chewing beetles that can decimate a crop overnight.
  • Fungicides selection is very important when trying to preserve a beneficial population and deal with the fungal attack.
  • Some fungicides are very harmful to beneficials, while some will do the same job but are harmless.
  • Research and previous experience in chemical selection is key here.
  • This is when you need to be proactive and know the environmental conditions that favour fungal attack and use harmless fungicides.
  • Spray rig choice is also important for disease/pest target applications.
  • Chemical mixing of different groups (2/tank) saves time and can be more effective.
  • Rotation aids in disease resistance.


Crops are monitored weekly and any results are written on our monitoring sheet template and later transposed to the ‘IPM’ computer program.  As with our ‘Water Program’ these results are building up a site specific history of all pests/disease/ beneficial occurrences, while doubling as an educational tool for those interested.  This is also a real time tool and is accessed/updated almost daily.  Posters with pest/beneficial/chemical uses on various walls.

As a back- up all area supervisors are continually on look out for pests or other crop problems to be addressed.  This is relayed to management team and appropriate measures are decided on.






Blue Gum Psyllid

All year

Psyllaephagus (wasp parisitoid), Tortise shell ladybeetle, White collared ladybeetle, Common spotted ladybeetle

Eugenia Psyllid

All year

Tamarixia (wasp parisitoid), Tortise shell ladybeetle, Green lacewing, Blue chilocorus, Long legged green fly

Two Spotted Mite

Spring Summer

Stethorus beetle, Phytoseilus persimilis, Anystis mite


Spring Summer

White collared ladybeetle, Aphidius (wasp parisitoid), Green/Brown lacewing, Hoverfly, Yellow shouldered ladybeetle


Spring Summer

White collared ladybeetle


All year

Assassin bug, Braconid wasps


All year

Cryptolaemus beetle, Blue chilocorus

Monolepta Beetle


None of any benefit known



Beneficial insect diversity is the key, and Alpine Alstonville has the advantages of a well set out nursery coupled with a diverse range of stock plants, rainforest plants and buffer-zones that all aid in places to live for predatory insects.  All practices (cultural,physical,biological etc) as first mentioned, are needed for a holistic approach, they are the tools for IPM.

IPM is not fast track option but a continual work in progress especially when trying to work in with the constraints of the environment and dynamics of insect life cycles.  However, it is a long term solution to pest control that ultimately reduces pesticide use over the long term, which is beneficial for the environment and those that work within it.  IPM does work.