The Australian vegetable industry is set to benefit from an investment in plant biosecurity, with horticulture research and development corporation Horticulture Innovation Australia securing a Federal Government grant and co-investor funding to deliver a $21 million plant biosecurity project.
The grant was announced by Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP on Saturday 20 May 2017 and includes a $7.4 million grant from the Rural R&D for Profit program to complement more than $14 million in investment across the seven plant research and development corporations and partners such as the CSIRO, universities and state government agencies.
Vegetable industry body AUSVEG was a key collaborator in securing this funding, and said the investment in biosecurity will ensure the horticulture industry has the technology and expertise at hand to deal with future biosecurity incursions and to aid plant producers in decision making for management of key endemic pests.
“Keeping Australia’s agricultural produce free from pests and diseases is an ongoing job that is vital to protecting the future viability of our primary production industry,” said AUSVEG National Manager – Science and Extension Dr Jessica Lye.
“The allocation of such a significant amount of funding to securing Australia’s borders from pests and disease is a timely acknowledgement of the importance of biosecurity in ensuring our agriculture industry is able to continue to produce the world’s healthiest and safest foods for local and international consumers.
“AUSVEG has worked closely with Horticulture Innovation Australia and the other collaborators to secure the funding for this project and we are confident the investment in increased biosecurity will help maintain confidence in our produce in key export markets and result in a healthier horticulture industry that will ultimately produce a wealthier nation.”
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, a national database that is already being used by State and Territory governments, and will be distributed to producers, governments and industry groups in the form of immediate alerts, pest forecasts and general reports to support fast, informed and collaborative decision making.
Throughout the life of the project, producers will be trained to access the data system, and shown how to use it to improve farm productivity and reduce farm input costs.