Finalists in the 2006 NT Research and Innovation Awards 


Green ants catching a seed weevil (one of the major mango pests in the Northern Territory)

CDU’s Dr Renkang Peng, Associate Professor Keith Christian and Associate Professor Karen Gibb have been named finalists for the NT Research and Innovation Awards for their research on green ants.

Green ants can be used to control a wide range of insect pests on cashews, mango and more recently in agroforestry.

These small green fighting machines can be used alone or in conjunction with judicious applications of soft chemicals to effect astonishingly high levels of insect pest control—they save growers money and the fruit is of a high quality.

This work, lead by Dr Peng, is based on many years of careful study of the biology and behaviour of these ants in northern Australia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The research has been disseminated through journal publications, invited papers, educational material, videos and manual—some of which has been translated into Thai and Vietnamese to be used by farmers and extension officers in these countries.

This work has had a major impact on the way participating growers manage their crops and the green ant IPM program is now used by over 30 growers in the Top End, Papua New Guinea, Sri-Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Mozambique.

Dr Peng has recently started an AusAid funded project to implement these techniques in cashew farms in Vietnam on a large scale.

Currently a Principal Researcher in the Faculty of Education, Health and Science at Charles Darwin University, Dr Peng received his PhD in 1991 from the University of Leeds, UK.

He has over 25 year's experience in IPM for cashew, mango, tea, cotton, pea and wheat in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate areas in Australia, China, UK, PNG and Mozambique.

Dr Peng has extensive consulting experience in insect pest control for cashew, mango and tea, and has published 45 scientific papers dealing with IPM, agroforestry and insect ecology in international and national professional journals, books and conferences. He has jointly obtained 12 national competitive research grants since 1991.

Dr Peng is currently engaged in two projects:

Implementation of an IPM program using weaver ants as a major component for cashew growers in Vietnam – A national wide training program
Supported by AusAid, Australia, Ministry of Agriculture, Vietnam and CDU

Green ants as biological control agents in agroforestry, with particular references to African mahogany in NT and red cedar in northern Australia
Supported by RIRDC and NTRI

The NT Research and Innovation Awards will be held on 11 May at the Holiday Inn, Esplanade.


This series of studies were supported by:

  • Charles Darwin University
  • NTRI Fund
  • AusAid
  • Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC)
  • Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

The researchers wish to thank the following people for their support and for providing study sites and farm facilities:

  • Ian Duncan
  • Les Brigden
  • Matthew Shortus
  • Lanni Zhang
  • Dallas Johns
  • Malcolm Green
  • Liz Marshall
  • Peter Gilson
  • Diane Lucas
  • Philip Stuart
  • Pieter Bekkers
  • Zhang Yue
  • Hangu Zhang
  • Craig Palmer
  • Peng Li
  • Keeley Palmer

The researchers also wish to acknowledge the Faculty of Education, Health and Science and the School of Science and Primary Industries.