Grain growers are being reminded to report any suspect plant pests and symptoms as early as possible to stop the spread of diseases next cropping season.
Reporting of odd pest and plant symptoms can be done quickly and easily through Agriculture Victoria’s crop surveillance program CropSafe.
CropSafe is a field crop pest and disease surveillance system linked to more than 200 major agribusiness companies and private agronomist networks.
In 2016, 226 samples were submitted to CropSafe for identification of unknown pests and diseases, 141 more than the year before, due to seasonal conditions and the Russian wheat aphid (RWA) incursion.
The first report of RWA came from a CropSafe agronomist — all of whom receive specialist surveillance training, as well as diagnostic support for unusual or difficult cases.
Agriculture Victoria’s acting chief plant health officer Dr Rosa Crnov said CropSafe had become a critical tool in identifying potential exotic pests and disease threats to the state’s grains industry.
The chief plant health officer relies on CropSafe surveillance data for market-access-related area-of-freedom (AoF) claims.
A recent evaluation of the program revealed it would require 81 full-time staff equivalents to provide the same targeted surveillance coverage.
‘‘The more growers we have using our CropSafe tools, the better we can protect our grains industry,’’ Agriculture Victoria program manager Kellyanne Harris said.
‘‘The bigger the CropSafe network becomes, the better able it is to detect exotic pests and diseases in field crops — and early detection is key,’’ Ms Harris said.
The program earned a top biosecurity award in March for its role in the RWA response in Victoria.
■For more information about CropSafe visit: http://go.vic.gov.au/PQRwiv