New technology is rapidly developing and creating opportunities for surveillance of airborne pest and disease threats. In response the Grains Research and Development Corporation initiated the CRC Plant Biosecurity Project 2014 ‘New tools for field grains surveillance and diagnostics of high priority exotic pests’ lead by SARDI.
This project has developed and evaluated ‘Smart’ Spore and Insect Trapping systems which collect samples referenced to parameters including GPS and climate data (temp, wind direction, RH) and include wireless data transmission of digital images or improved design for downstream diagnostics such as molecular assays of pest targets. These approaches demonstrate the benefits of partnering with engineering to include automation and innovation; in this instance resulting in trapping systems with smart capabilities and capacity for high sampling frequencies. Prototypes currently under evaluation at SARDI include the Mobile Jet Spore Sampler, Sensor Moth Trap and Insect Suction Trap resulting from collaboration with engineers at USQ as well as strong linkages to Burkard Manufacturing Co. (Stuart Wili) and Rothamsted Research (Prof Jon West) in the United Kingdom.
Area-wide (network) applications of these devices are required for coordinated reporting of point of origin and dispersal dynamics of targets within fields or growing regions. This applies to both exotic and endemic threats, and is equally applicable to grains, horticulture and viticulture industries. For effective pest and disease surveillance, these innovations must be combined with robust sampling protocols, rapid detection and data interpretation for accurate interrogation of spatial data generated from a network of samplers. This is particularly important given the size and scale of Australia’s agricultural industries. These technologies should improve detection efficiency and provide additional time for industry to respond to incursions of airborne pests and plant pathogens.