New tech­nol­ogy to help fight fruit fly

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - GE­ORDI OFFORD Ge­[email protected]­ral­

A NEW trial is set to give farm­ers an edge in com­bat­ing fruit fly.

Smart-traps have been rolled out as part of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s $16.9 mil­lion pack­age to man­age the pest.

Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture David Lit­tleproud said the fund­ing would as­sure trad­ing part­ners pro­duce comes from a fruit fly free area.

“We’ve started a trial of smart-traps that’ll send farm­ers in­stant alerts if fruit fly is de­tected,” Mr Lit­tleproud said.

“Sen­sors de­tect fruit flies in the trap by the way they move and send mo­bile alerts to grow­ers.

“This can pro­vide farm­ers the best pos­si­ble in­for­ma­tion, so they can re­spond to an out­break quicker.”

Dr Nancy Schell­horn of RapidAIM is one of three re­searchers be­hind the smart-traps be­ing tested on fruit crops around the coun­try.

“Right now, there is a lot of time spent look­ing at traps man­u­ally and when do­ing that you could be check­ing a lot of empty ones,” she said.

“It (tech­nol­ogy) takes the guess work out of pest man­age­ment.

“The pests are small, highly mo­bile and they re­pro­duce quickly and can cause prob­lems be­fore you even know it.

“Our tech­nol­ogy pro­vides early de­tec­tion and gives grow­ers tar­geted con­trol.”

Dr Schell­horn said they were mo­ti­vated to cre­ate an af­ford­able so­lu­tion for farm­ers.

“Agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy is an up and com­ing area,” she said.

“There are some other de­vices out there which take a pic­ture of the dead in­sect at the bot­tom of the trap.

“One of the chal­lenges with cam­era-based tech­nol­ogy is you have to send im­ages to the cloud all the time and process them.”

At the mo­ment the ma­jor­ity of the trial is be­ing done in Shep­par­ton, Vic­to­ria where 145 sen­sors have been de­ployed.

“Pro­duc­ers will re­ceive a mo­bile app which will give them real-time no­ti­fi­ca­tions,” she said.

“They will also be able to share their data with oth­ers, so they can see what’s hap­pen­ing, it’ll be quite a se­cure net­work.

“Once we have all the tai­lor­ing done, we’re hop­ing for the traps to be on the com­mer­cial mar­ket in 10 months.”

Part of the $16.9 mil­lion pack­age will in­clude an in­vest­ment in a na­tional map­ping pro­gram to track the move­ment of QFly in sum­mer.

“The flies make their way south as it warms up and this will let grow­ers know where they are and help us tar­get where to re­lease our ster­ile fruit flies,” Mr Lit­tleproud said.

“We’re putting ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers on the ground to help grow­ers use the lat­est science.

“They’ll help farm­ers work through the lat­est R&D and put it to work in their or­chards.

“This pack­age will help pro­tect our $18 bil­lion hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try and re­as­sure our trad­ing part­ners of the sys­tems we have in place.”

The pro­gram would go fly man­age­ment such as Mediter­ranean fruit fly ar­eas in­clud­ing in WA, NT and SA, and the na­tive Queens­land fruit fly on the East Coast.

NEW TECH­NOL­OGY: Re­searcher Dr Nancy Schell­horn holds a new smart-trap to cap­ture fruit flies. The trap is cur­rently be­ing tri­alled on fruit farms. PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

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