Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Biosecurity
GROUND COVER BIOSECURITY THREATS & BEST BETS 6 BE PREPARED The motto of the Scouting Movement is relevant to the grains industry in relation to biosecurity By Sharyn Taylor PREVENTION, PREPAREDNESS AND response are the key components of Plant Health Australia's (PHA) strategy to minimise the threat of exotic organisms entering Australia. This is an evolving process and an important development for the grains industry has been the preparation of contingency plans for major threats. With funding from the GRDC, contingency plans are being produced for a total of 30 high and medium-priority pests of concern to the grains industry (Table 1). Twenty-five of the plans have now been completed in a project managed by PHA with funding support from the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity. The contingency plans, which can be accessed through the Pest Information Document Database (PIDD) on the PHA website (www.planthealthaustralia. com.au), collate information on each potential pest threat and Australia's capacity to respond. Details include the lifecycle and host range, diagnostic tests, surveying and surveillance requirements, methods of control and decontamination. Of particular interest to growers and researchers travelling overseas are details of the countries where the pest threat already exists. The development of the contingency plans not only provides a single point of information but also helps identify where further information or action is required. Such actions could include the development of diagnostics capabilities, breeding of resistant varieties or carrying out surveillance to ensure the pest does not already exist in Australia. The plans also highlight if chemical controls exist and are registered for use. The GRDC, PHA and other relevant parties are working with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to establish chemical approval permits. Each pest is rated on its potential to enter Australia, become established and its ability to spread. A pest that has a low entry risk can have an extreme spread risk once it has penetrated Australia's border. The final risk rating also takes in to account the economic, environmental and social impact if that pest arrived and spread in Australia. Maintaining market access by preventing the establishment of exotic pests is at the heart of PHA's activities. When an incursion does occur, a situation-specific response plan is put into place. Contingency plans are an important reference for the development of any response plan. Australia has been lucky to have experienced few incidents involving exotic grain pests and diseases in recent times. However, to counter what is seen as a growing threat, constant vigilance is essential. The 2007 incidence of the storage pest Khapra beetle in a suburban house required preparation and implementation of a response plan that resulted in eradication of the pest. Information for this response plan was available through a previously prepared contingency plan, which ensured rapid and efficient response and meant the pest did not become established in grain storage facilities, and there was no disruption to trade. □ GRDC Research Code NPB00006 More information: Dr Sharyn Taylor, program manager -- biosecurity planning & implementation, Plant Health Australia, 02 6215 7700, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.grdc.com.au/NPB00006 EACH PEST IS RATED ON ITS POTENTIAL TO ENTER, ESTABLISH AND SPREAD IN AUSTRALIA. Table 1 Exotic pest threats to the grains industry for which contingency plans have now been completed Exotic grains pests not found in Australia Implication to the Australian grains industry if they became established Barley stripe rust This fungal pest could affect all growing regions and overseas testing has shown that up to 80 per cent of current Australian barley varieties are susceptible. Crop losses can be up to 100 per cent. Russian wheat aphid A soft-bodied insect that feeds on wheat and barley, it can attack most cereal crops and has overcome resistant wheat cultivars being grown in the US and South Africa. It can cause crop losses of up to 75 per cent. Rusts of field pea and lentil Rusts on field peas and lentils have been shown to cause yield losses of between 30 and 60 per cent. If established in Australia these rusts would probably require control by fungicide application as well as increased efforts in breeding for resistance. Karnal bunt Fungal pest that affects wheat, durum and triticale. Affected seeds are blackened and have a fishy smell and if established in Australia, this pest would have severe impacts on access to overseas markets. Sorghum shoot fly A key pest of sorghum in Africa and China, it attacks seedlings and tillers, causing 'dead hearts' resulting in yield losses of 20 per cent. Cabbage seed pod weevil A major pest of canola in Europe, the US and Canada, this insect causes yield losses of up to 20 per cent through direct feeding on seeds developing within the pod. Additional yield loss can also occur as a result of premature shattering of damaged pods. Fusarium wilt of chickpea Several pathotypes of Fusarium wilt of chickpea occur overseas which cause yield loss of up to 60 per cent in susceptible cultivars. Sorghum downy mildew A fungal pathogen of sorghum and maize that can cause yield losses of up to 30 per cent.
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