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Strategy to manage phosphine resistance

Protecting the Australian grains industry from new pest and disease threats is a major focus of our research. Projects range from an analysis of insect genetics to determine how chemical resistance evolves, to pest monitoring via mobile phone networks; all protecting domestic food production and the $5 billion grain export industry.

Phosphine resistance among stored grain insect pests is a major focus of our Post-Harvest Integrity Research program, which includes projects reviewing phosphine application techniques to improve effectiveness, new fumigation protocols in response to identified resistant insect populations, genetic research to identify resistance mechanisms, and most recently, research on insect ecology to support resistance management tactics.

Phosphine is central to pest management in the Australian grain industry and its continued effectiveness is essential to the sustainability of grain biosecurity and market access for Australian grains. In the past 10-15 years, resistance to phosphine in target insect pests has increased in both frequency and strength such that it now threatens effective control.

In response, and as an initiative of the National Working Party on Grain Protection, Dr Pat Collins, our Post-Harvest Integrity Research program leader has worked with government and industry to develop a publication providing strategic guidance to manage insect resistance to phosphine in the Australian grain industry.

The strategy was developed in consultation with the Australian grain industry to ensure that practical and commercial constraints inherent to this industry were accommodated without loss of the resistance management aim. The strategy applies to all sectors and is consistent with current best practice integrated pest management. However, the strategy is voluntary, and success will depend on industry commitment and widespread compliance. Where successful, these strategies will limit the spread and impact of resistance but not eradicate it.

To ensure this information is readily available to the grains industry, the strategy has recently been made available on Grain Trade Australia’s website. It is also available on our website.