Ministers reveal time-saving pest check

November 28, 2017

A trial of a computer-based data collection system to help identify the incidence of orchard pests has been given a $330000 funding boost from the Federal Government.

Assistant Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Luke Hartsuyker, joined Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum in Shepparton to announce the funding for Plant Health Australia to conduct the trial, which could provide a range of biosecurity and trade benefits for Australian agriculture.

The money will fund the trial of AusPestCheck as part of the National Plant Health Surveillance Program, which collects critical information on plant pests around Australia to support Australia’s plant industries.

Both MPs visited Geoffrey Thompson’s apple orchard in north Shepparton to make the announcement.

‘‘This trial will enable automation of the capture, collation and sharing of accurate plant pest data collected by industry and state and territory governments and provided through AusPestCheck, rather than relying on manual number crunching,’’ Mr Hartsuyker said.

‘‘It will save time and valuable resources and has the potential to significantly benefit Australia’s horticulture industry from both a biosecurity and trade point of view.

‘‘It could help us provide added assurance to our agricultural trading partners on Australia’s plant health status, which is a crucial part of ongoing and new market access opportunities.’’

Mr Drum and Mr Hartsuyker also visited Pine Lodge farmer David Cook to discuss the $1billion National Landcare Program.

Mr Cook, who manages a wheat, canola and faba bean rotation on his 1105ha property, recently purchased cattle to boost his soil health after attending a Holistic Management Short Course funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

‘‘After attending the course, David was motivated to buy cattle and graze his cover crops to boost soil health,’’ Mr Hartsuyker said.

‘‘He also stopped growing monocultures and is now growing multi-species or companion crops across his entire property, and no longer uses artificial fertilisers.’’

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