Sustainable Invertebrate pest and disease management in tea tree

The State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

  • Project code: PRJ-012748

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, August 3, 2020

  • Project completion date: Friday, February 5, 2021

  • National Priority: TTO-Improving supply


Pest management is a significant problem and production expense for tea tree growers. Pests include insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes. The use of a native species in extensive monoculture systems is challenging and there is evidence that individual pest impacts are increasing in any given season. The detection of new pests adds an additional layer of complexity and need for new management strategies. The limited number of tools for control of these pests appear to be decreasing in efficacy and the arrival of new pest threats requires additional support to develop management strategies. Chemical contamination of tea tree oil is also a threat to the Quality Assurance requirements of the industry and needs to be considered in the development of any pest or disease management strategy. The Industry needs integrated pest management (IPM) guidelines which fit into a broader integrated management package that includes soil fertility, weed management and crop growth optimisation with minimal environmental impact.
This proposal addresses Tea Tree Oil RD&E objectives, 2018-2022 Objective 1 (Improving supply – Long term sustainability of production; An RD&E program to underpin a prosperous tea tree industry) and Objective 3 (Undertake RD&E that supports industry’s sustainability and environmental improvement Extension, sustainability and human capital) and was developed following discussions with Tony Larkman, CEO, ATTIA.


Tea Tree Oil

Research Organisation

The State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Objective Summary

The aims of the proposed project are to:
1. Document and prioritise the current invertebrate pests and diseases threats to production in commercial tea tree plantations across the estate in Queensland and New South Wales
2. Document the current invertebrate pest and disease management strategies in tea tree plantations and their efficacy
3. Determine the key limitations to current invertebrate pest and disease management practices
4. Outline and report to the Tea Tree Oil industry on the research and extension needs and priorities
This scoping study would provide an evidence-based foundation for larger projects aimed at addressing the most important recommendations and priorities on pests and disease threats to production and subsequent management requirements. It is expected that a larger project would include research and extension activities such as:
• Optimising invertebrate pest and disease management techniques
• Understanding pest and disease biology to improve management – e.g. disease forecasting to optimise chemical use and reduce costs
• Assessment of new active ingredients for the management of the different groups of invertebrate pest species and diseases including:
o Field trialling of the active ingredients identified as effected in bioassay.
o Assessing active ingredients for commercial suitability via residue analysis
o Registering suitable active ingredients for permitted use in tea tree plantations.
o Extending new permitted pesticides through field days and other industry events
• Review of non-chemical-based activities to reduce pest and disease impacts in plantations including:
o Biological control
o Resistance breeding
o Crop management