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Cross-industry mobile biosecurity surveillance launches first trial in forestry setting

In 2018, a unique collaboration between FWPA and all other plant-based Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) was launched.

The national, cross-industry iMapPESTS project also brings together research scientists, and government representatives.

Now, for the first time, one of the specially-designed units (also known as ‘sentinels’) that capture airborne samples for testing is being deployed in a forest setting.

The cross-industry RD&E national surveillance initiative has the potential to improve and accelerate the detection of airborne pests and diseases, ultimately boosting productivity and profitability for forestry and other industries.

The sentinels are used to capture airborne samples, which are then sent to partner laboratories and examined to identify the presence of high-priority pests and pathogens. Fitted with various high-tech sampling equipment, the sentinels have been deployed in trials at various locations around South Australia.

The team behind this initiative has recently deployed its newest mobile surveillance units, Sentinel 6, to a forest location in the Tallebudgera Valley in Queensland.

This most recent trial marks the first deployment of one of these high-tech units in a forestry setting, where it is focused on the surveillance and diagnostics of myrtle rust (Uredo rangelii). This fungal species infects a broad range of hosts in the Myrtaceae family — including various Eucalyptus and Melaleuca species. It is therefore a significant, priority target for the forestry industry.

Jodie Mason, Forest Research Manager at FWPA, said it has been encouraging to see all plant-based RDCs working together towards a common goal.

“The project is a result of the recognition that sampling the air can benefit lots of different industries that are geographically collocated, including forestry,” Mason said.

“Once collected and analysed, the data can be used by industry to guide the direction or intensity of scouting efforts and pest control activities. It could also facilitate a coordinated cross-sector response to biosecurity efforts during exotic pest and disease incursions.”

Research collaborators are now trialing new and emerging diagnostic tools aimed at speeding up the delivery of accurate information about what is captured by the sentinels.

The project has been made possible thanks to a grant under the Australian Government’s Rural R&D for Profit program, which enables nationally coordinated, strategic research that delivers real outcomes for Australian producers.

For more information or to register your interest, visit imappests.com.au

Posted Date: June 22, 2021

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