New plant surveillance tech trial in the Barossa

RD&E News | October 2019
11 Oct 2019
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A national multi-agricultural industry surveillance initiative called iMapPESTS is developing novel airborne surveillance and diagnostics technologies to speed up detection and reporting of important pests and diseases within regions.

The iMapPESTS: Sentinel Surveillance for Agriculture program aims to rapidly monitor and report the presence of airborne pests and diseases for multiple agricultural sectors, including viticulture, grains, cotton, sugar, horticulture and forestry.

The five-year program is being led by Hort Innovation, with funding from the Australian Government’s Rural R&D for Profit Program, as well as 16 partner organisations, including Wine Australia.

A key feature of the program is the Sentinel, a mobile surveillance unit, that offers optimal sampling of airborne fungal spores and insects.

The Sentinel is a specialised trailer equipped with several airborne samplers, power supply, a weather sensor, telemetry and an industrial computer to remotely control and monitor the unit, including automated robotics to change pots on the samplers according to the day or capture criteria.

The Sentinel is a mobile surveillance unit that offers optimal sampling of airborne fungal spores and insects.

The Sentinel features four different air samplers:

  • two spore samplers, which are high-volume air samplers specifically designed to collect airborne spores
  • a two-metre insect suction trap to monitor localised insect dynamics
  • a six-metre insect suction trap, ideally suited to monitor for long-distance migratory insect flights, and
  • a BioScout system, a near real-time monitoring technology of fungal spores under collaboration.

A prototype Sentinel was recently launched at an agronomic field trial site for grains in Hart, South Australia. 

The first sentinel mobile pest surveillance unit, was unveiled at the Hart Field Day in South Australia on Tuesday 17 September.

Following a six-week trial in the grains industry, the Sentinel will make its way to the Barossa Valley where it will be put into action near vineyards.

Important targets for viticulture, such as Light Brown Apple Moth and Botrytis grey mould, will be targeted during the Barossa trial phase via the on-board lure traps, and spore traps.

After the Sentinel captures airborne spores and insects, the samples will be dispatched to laboratories at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) for identification of target pests and diseases.

iMapPESTS will work with growers and representatives across the sector to understand the best way to communicate and present the dynamic pest information to end users, potentially via tablet or phone, sharing which pests or diseases the Sentinel is detecting in an area at a particular time.

Wine producers and their consultants are encouraged to visit the iMapPESTS website for more information on the initiative, including where and when the sentinels will be in your region and how you can get involved.

iMapPESTS is supported by Hort Innovation, through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit Program and AgriFutures Australia, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Forest & Wood Products Australia, Grains Research & Development Corporation, Nursery & Garden Industry Australia, Sugar Research Australia, and Wine Australia.


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