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Scientists planting new research ideas in Queensland

Media Release: 25 September 2009

Australia’s top plant biosecurity scientists gathered on the Sunshine Coast this week to discuss current and future research activities which will help safeguard Australia’s agriculture industries.

The Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity held a ‘Science Exchange’ to bring together researchers, government and plant industry representatives from across the country.

The CRC’s chief executive officer, Dr Simon McKirdy said the meeting was important to facilitate engagement between key plant biosecurity stakeholders.

‘Our science is driven by the national research priority of safeguarding Australia’s agricultural industries and retaining our reputation as an exporter of clean and pest free products,’ said Dr McKirdy.

‘This forum provides an opportunity for researchers to discuss their research and also a platform for industry and government regulators to learn more about the science and how it underpins a strong biosecurity system,’ he said.

Chairman of OrdGuard and grower from Kununurra, Mr Lachlan Dobson said it was encouraging to hear about the innovative research which will provide industry with better tools to manage harmful plant pests and diseases.

‘It’s becoming increasingly more important for farmers to monitor for pests and diseases and implement biosecurity measures. An incursion in a plant crop can cost a grower thousands of dollars to eradicate and a long time to get the crop back to its original health,’ he said.

‘Listening to the scientists today provides me with confidence that the research being conducted will help the agriculture industry better manage potential biosecurity risks,’ said Mr Dobson.

Awards were also presented to research teams who displayed excellence in areas of innovation, collaboration and impact on industry. Queensland led projects were recipients of two awards for their contribution to Australia’s plant biosecurity scientific research.

Dr Gary Kong from Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation won an international collaboration award for leading a project that has developed two online tools which enable plant pests and diseases to be identified remotely and in real time using the internet.

Dr Peter Whittle and his research team from Queensland University of Technology won the impact on industry award for a project which developed a robust surveillance method to monitor the environment for harmful pests and diseases.