Australia’s avocado, mango, and macadamia growers are being called on to contribute to a map that aims to enhance the nation’s biosecurity response and planning capability and help with recovery efforts after severe weather events.
The draft online map shows commercial avocado, mango, and macadamia crops around the country, and has been formulated with satellite imagery generated by scientists, land-use information from industry and government, as well as ‘citizen science’ collected via the purpose-built Land Use Survey app.
Horticulture Innovation Australia chief executive, John Lloyd said while contributors have made more than 1000 entries via the Land Use Survey app, there is plenty more work to be done.
He said during plant biosecurity outbreaks such as Citrus Canker, Banana Panama Disease, and more recently, the Tomato-Potato Psyllid, one of the biggest impediments to rapid response is identifying where exactly the host crops are.
“This new map allows growers to help safeguard the future of their industries by pin pointing where farms are, helping their industry bodies and relevant agencies plan and enact biosecurity measures during serious pest and disease incursions,” he said.
“In the case of severe weather events, such as fires or floods, this map will also allow industry bodies and authorities to quickly and easily identify farms impacted, speeding up any aid provision process.
“So we are encouraging growers to grab their smartphones, tablets, or laptops, review the map and add their comments to help support their industries through this ambitious land-use mapping project.”
Recently, the map helped respective industry representative bodies determine the extent of the impact of Cyclone Debbie which crossed the North Queensland coast on 28 March 2017. It also has the potential to assist growers with insurance claims.
Mr Lloyd said this research may also inform future mapping projects for other horticultural industries.
This project is supported by Horticulture Innovation Australia through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit Programme.
Led by the University of New England, this project involves a host of industry collaborators including Avocados Australia, the Australian Macadamia Society, the Australian Mango Industry Association, and Simpson Farms.
The University of Queensland, University of Sydney, Central Queensland University, Agtrix Pty Ltd, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation are also project collaborators.