City of Ballarat Council has reduced chemical usage at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens by more than 70% following the rollout of an innovative approach to pest management.
Council’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an environmentally sensitive approach to pest control in which a combination of methods are used together to holistically reduce the impact of pests on plants.
It uses information about the life cycles of pests and the local environment to manage pest damage in the least harmful way to the environment and people.
Instead of relying on spraying techniques, Council’s horticultural team has introduced beneficial insects into the nursery to feed on the pest insects. Purchased from specialist insect breeders, live insects or eggs are released into the nursery or encouraged in via planter boxes of flowers around the glasshouse windows. These beneficial species then act as predators to the pest species, Council said in a statement.
It also employs other IPM methods, including adjusting planting location, using cultivation techniques, installing pest traps and destroying pest food sources.
While the use of IPM hasn’t eliminated the need for spraying techniques at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Reserve, it has significantly reduced chemical usage. Horticultural staff will, however, spot-spray if there is an outbreak.
Mayor, Des Hudson said the use of IPM at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens was in line with the City of Ballarat Community Vision 2021–2031 for sustainable practice.
“The City of Ballarat is striving to ensure the delicate balance of the local ecosystem is maintained,” he said.
“That’s why The City of Ballarat is actively seeking ways to reduce chemical usage and promote sustainable practices, particularly in our gardens.”
The Ballarat Botanical Gardens Conservatory is free and open every day from 9am to 4.30pm, excluding Christmas Day. For more information about the Ballarat Botanical Gardens visit the website.