New technology to help fight fruit fly
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