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Before, during and after the crisis: 8 years of extension for IPM adoption in southern Queensland farming systems (1998-2006).

Austin McLennan

The Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland, Email


Extension projects are often initiated in times of crisis, but different extension approaches are then required as a situation matures, often to a point of post-crisis. This poster shows this evolution in an ongoing extension initiative aimed at reducing insecticide reliance in the cotton/grain farming systems of southern Queensland.

The initial crisis was a major pest outbreak in 1998, when the farming community recognised that a co-operative ‘area-wide-management’ approach was essential to controlling Helicoverpa armigera, the key insect pest driving insecticide use.

A flurry of joint research and extension activity resulted in many local grower groups forming to co-operate in the adoption and trialling of new pest management tactics. Close interaction between researchers, growers, agronomists and extension officers through these ‘Area Wide Management’ groups assisted, not only the adoption of new practices and joint goal-setting, but significant attitude change towards pest management.

In recent years the sense of crisis surrounding insect pest management has dissipated, due partly to low pest pressure and the rapid adoption of a new technology (GM cotton). IPM extension activities continue, albeit with a shift in intensity and approach, e.g. many of the original grower groups have ceased meeting, while others have broadened their focus.

Three key learnings: (1) absence of crisis – or apparent success - does not necessarily mean the role for extension has ceased, (2) crises come and go, but networks and relationships remain, and (3) post-crisis extension in particular requires innovation, patience and flexibility.


Integrated Pest Management, farming systems research, personal qualities, AWM, cotton, grain

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