$21m injection for pest surveillance

June 19, 2017

Plant Health Australia has received funding for a project to improve plant pest surveillance and utilise AUSPestCheck as a national virtual co-ordination centre. The project, Improving Plant Pest Management Through Cross Industry Deployment of Smart Sensor, Diagnostics and Forecasting, will underpin existing surveillance initiatives, and provide a foundation for a nation‐wide surveillance network.

Total funding from the Australian Government Rural Research and Development for Profit grant is $21.66 million over five years: PHA will receive $450,000.

The project will build and deploy mobile pest surveillance units (flexi hubs) that combine trapping technology for airborne fungal spores and insects with cutting edge detection and diagnostics systems.

Monitoring sites will be established in key growing and high-risk areas and priority targets identified relevant to each participating agricultural sector.

A surveillance program managed by Department of Agriculture and Food WA will be incorporated.

The innovative trapping technology and improved plant pest diagnostics will lead to faster, cost effective pest detection. Data within a cloud-based platform will be packaged, analysed and distributed to users as regular reports and notifications to support informed decision making.

Surveillance data of plant pests of cross sectoral significance will be used to develop forecasting tools for predicting movement and pest prevalence over growing seasons and giving early warning of pest epidemics.

Data will be uploaded to AUSPestCheck, developed by PHA to aggregate national data sets, provide mapping capability and alerts for pest status. It provides an ideal platform for managing the Hub data and providing information and analytical and decision‐making tools to its many potential user groups. Use of AUSPestCheck by the surveillance network will enhance the value of the platform as data are added and used.

The project partners include all seven plant industry Research & Development Corporations, Plant Health Australia, AUSVEG, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (through the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy) and four research providers: South Australian Research and Development Institute, Agriculture Victoria, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia and the CSIRO. International contributors are Rothamsted Research, Burkard Manufacturing, and Plant and Food Research New Zealand.