Aus­tralia to lead world in hor­ti­cul­tural pest con­trol sys­tems

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News -

AUS­TRALIA is on track to adopt some of the most so­phis­ti­cated plant pest sur­veil­lance tech­nolo­gies in the world af­ter Hor­ti­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Aus­tralia (Hort In­no­va­tion) se­cured a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment grant and co-in­vestor fund­ing to de­liver a $12m plant biose­cu­rity push.

The $7.4m Ru­ral R&D for Profit grant will com­ple­ment more than $14M in in­vest­ment across the seven plant Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tions (RDCs) and part­ners such as the CSIRO, uni­ver­si­ties and state gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

Veg­etable in­dus­try body AUSVEG and Plant Health Aus­tralia are also key col­lab­o­ra­tors.

Hort In­no­va­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive John Lloyd said the new project, which would be­gin in July, would fur­ther safe­guard Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture from pathogen and pest in­cur­sions.

“The early de­tec­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of any new pathogen or pest is crit­i­cal, and a pre-emp­tive ap­proach is vi­tal to con­trol,” he said.

“Pests and dis­eases can dev­as­tate grow­ers, af­fect the sup­ply of tim­ber, food and fi­bre prod­ucts and hin­der trade op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

The five-year project will see the con­struc­tion and es­tab­lish­ment of eight state-of-the-art mo­bile pest mon­i­tor­ing hubs, in­clud­ing a suite of smart sur­veil­lance traps that cap­ture air­borne fun­gal spores and in­sects and ref­er­ence them against GPS, tem­per­a­ture, hu­mid­ity, wind speed and di­rec­tion data.

That data will then be fed real-time into cloud-based sys­tem AUSPestCheck.

It will then be dis­trib­uted to pro­duc­ers, gov­ern­ments and in­dus­try groups in the form of im­me­di­ate alerts, pest fore­casts and general re­ports to sup­port de­ci­sion mak­ing.

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