Hor­ti­cul­tural pests come by wind

Mansfield Courier - - PROPERTY -

VIC­TO­RIAN sci­en­tists are help­ing to pro­tect Aus­tralia’s hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try by de­vel­op­ing bet­ter sur­veil­lance strate­gies to pre­vent the es­tab­lish­ment and spread of for­eign wind-borne pests.

En­to­mol­o­gists at Vic­to­ria’s cen­tre for Agribio­science in Bun­doora, re­cently com­pleted a Plant Biose­cu­rity CRC re­view on the dan­gers of long dis­tance wind dis­per­sal as a route for pests and pathogens land­ing in Aus­tralia.

Re­search leader Alan Yen said the re­search par­tic­u­larly fo­cuses on iden­ti­fy­ing the lo­ca­tion and sea­son­al­ity of the ma­jor wind chan­nels that trans­port high risk pests and pathogens.

“Wind chan­nels flow­ing from New Zealand, In­done­sia, Pa­pua New Guinea, South Africa and the Pa­cific can all carry high risk pests, depend­ing on the time of year,” Dr Yen said.

“The pro­ject in­volves gath­er­ing and us­ing in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the tim­ing and lo­ca­tion of the first recorded ar­rivals of se­lected for­eign pests and pathogens into Aus­tralia.

“This data is then com­pared with the wind pat­terns dur­ing each cor­re­spond­ing time, which al­lows us to track the jour­ney of the pests and pathogens back to their ap­prox­i­mate point of ori­gin.”

Dr Yen said the re­search also showed dif­fer­ent wind-borne pests and pathogens travel when weather con­di­tions are favourable for their sur­vival dur­ing their jour­neys.

“Past in­cur­sions from New Zealand in­clude the cur­rant let­tuce aphid in 2004 and the gi­ant pine aphid in 2014 which ar­rived dur­ing pro­longed pe­ri­ods of easterly winds,” Dr Yen said.

“The tomato potato psyl­lid is cur­rently one of the high­est risk for­eign pest threats to the Aus­tralian hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try as it has the po­ten­tial to dev­as­tate our potato and tomato in­dus­tries.

“Data from this re­search has re­vealed this in­sect is most likely to blow over from New Zealand dur­ing March when there are sev­eral days of favourable easterly winds that en­able the in­sects to travel to Aus­tralia in 72-192 hours.”

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