Let’s go on a bug blitz

By Country News

It is hoped a two-week biosecurity blitz will help home gardeners, commercial growers and those working in the fresh produce supply chain to be able to detect exotic pests early.

Led by research organisation Cesar with Agriculture Victoria and Fruit Growers Victoria, the free mock surveillance event will train attendees in the identification of exotic plant pests, conducting surveillance, GPS tagging of monitoring sites, collecting and storing suspect pest samples, and maintaining good biosecurity between farms and regions.

Cesar extension and communications team leader Jessica Lye said new or exotic plant pests could have a devastating impact on rural communities.

‘‘Production impacts, disruption of integrated pest management plans, out-of-spec harvests, loss of market access, and pest containment measures are possible consequences of an exotic pest being found in a production region,’’ Ms Lye said.

The training and two-week biosecurity blitz in the Goulburn Valley will focus on the brown marmorated stink bug and plum pox virus.

‘‘Both of these pests have the potential to greatly impact horticultural businesses in the Goulburn Valley,’’ Ms Lye said.

‘‘Fortunately, these pests have never been found in the Goulburn Valley.

‘‘Building community awareness of what to look out for and how to report will increase the chance of early detection and, therefore, effective control efforts.’’

Participants will be invited to continue monitoring for two weeks and will be supplied with an easy-to-use surveillance guide and record-keeping sheet.

The mock surveillance training will take place on Wednesday, April 10, from 3pm to 5pm at Agriculture Victoria’s Tatura research facility at 255 Ferguson Rd, Tatura.

To secure a place at the free training session visit: gvbioblitz2019.eventbrite.com