South Australia invests in research for new pest detection technology

The South Australian government’s SARDI research institute, in collaboration with Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC), has started a new research project to develop technology that would reduce crop losses and safeguard biosecurity status of grains destined for export markets.

Image credit: flickr.com User:  followtheseinstructions
Image credit: flickr.com User: followtheseinstructions

According to the latest media release by the Government of South Australia, researchers are investigating several advanced technologies including new-age sensor, web-based and wireless technologies and even unmanned vehicles and drones to provide early detection of pests and diseases in South Australia and Australia’s broad acre cropping system.

Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Gail Gago said the Government has appropriated $960,000 towards the $5.5 million project, which is expected to be completed in 5 years.

The outcome of the project will provide support for South Australia’s Premium Food and Wine from the country’s Clean Environment strategic priority.

“The sophistication and development in sensor technologies is growing at an impressive rate,” Ms. Gago said.

“Near-infrared, laser, acoustic and biosensor detection are being applied to a range of industries and agriculture, fisheries and environmental management are all set to gain. The potential for high-tech testing is a novel approach to improve farm productivity and counter negative impacts such as drought and weather extremes.”

The ongoing project may offer significant benefits to the $14 billion a year food industry in the near future.

Chief Executive of the PBCRC Dr. Michael Robinson said the testing of the emerging technologies will greatly assist in safeguarding established trade routines and prevent crop losses.

“Our researchers are scouring the world for novel surveillance systems being developed for plant disease and pest detection,” Dr. Robinson said.

“These new automated digital sensor systems, sensing platforms and data transmission systems will take the testing of broad-scale pests and diseases from the lab out into the field, thus increasing the cost efficiency, timeliness and delivery on the ground.”

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