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A two-day Olive Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM) Masterclass is being held in September, targeting industry-related professionals. Run by IPDM experts from Western Sydney University and other organisations, the event will provide horticultural consultants with the latest knowledge and principles to assist in identifying/determining causes of tree health problems in olive groves, and guiding sustainable pest and disease management.

Organiser Associate Professor Robert Spooner-Hart said the Masterclass aims to broaden the reach of the knowledge shared at the national grower field days, to include consultants and pest scouts.

“This is for the people whose job it is to go out into olive groves and look for pests and diseases, so will include more in-depth information on pest and disease identification and biology, as well principles and practices for their sustainable management,” he said.

“We’re going to doing a bit more technical stuff too, like looking under the microscope in the lab. We are aware at times it can be difficult for consultants and advisors to diagnose some problems, potentially resulting in advice on what to do based on misidentification. It is also difficult keep up with the latest research knowledge on certain pests and diseases.

“We want to maximise their skills so they can identify plant health issues and also provide the most up to date management advice, rather than the general chemical on the shelf.”

The Masterclass will involve key Western Sydney University experts including Spooner-Hart and Andrew Beattie (a spray oil expert), as well as plant pathologists Len Tesoriero (NSW DPI) and Barbara Hall (SARDI), and will provide the latest information and thinking on topics including:

  • soil and plant nutrition related to plant health
  • soil biology and plant health
  • key olive pests and diseases, including the latest research findings on black scale and its natural enemies
  • theory and practice of oil sprays in IPDM programs
  • current and likely future olive diseases
  • latest techniques and technology for integrated pest and disease management and biosecurity.

The program incorporates both theory sessions and practical activities, and will include a networking dinner on the Wednesday night. All participants will receive comprehensive hand-outs including further reading and references.

Spooner-Hart stressed that while the Masterclass is specifically aimed at industry professionals, growers are also welcome to attend.

“We’re happy for advanced farmers to turn up as well, or those wanting more in-depth information,” he said.

“Most importantly, though, we want growers to urge their local advisors – the grove consultant and the guys at the local ag supply store – to attend, so they can update their knowledge and, in turn, provide a better service to growers across the board.

“There’s no cost for attendance, which includes morning tea and lunch, so participants only have to cover dinner, travel expenses and accommodation. Numbers are very limited, however, so please get out and speak with them soon to ensure they reserve a place.”

Event details:

When:   Wednesday 25 & Thursday 26 September, 9:00am start.

Where:  Building L9, Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury Campus, Bourke Street, Richmond, NSW 2758.

Cost:       Free. Networking dinner at own cost.

Register here, where you can also contact Dr Spooner-Hart for more information or with any questions.

This project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the Hort Innovation olive research and development levy, co-investment from the Australian Olive Association and contributions from the Australian Government.