Thursday, February 29, 2024
Newsbuds

Levy funded project saves $20m

A levy-funded project led by Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) has succeeded in having Polyphagus shot-hole borer re-classified as a Category 1 pest, netting Australia’s nursery industry a saving of more than $20 million.

Among the key project outcomes to date, the project team successfully developed a pest categorisation information package for the Polyphagous shot-hole borer (PSHB)/Fusarium sp. complex in Western Australia under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. This led to the successful re-classification of the pest from a Category 3 (funding 50% industry/50% government) to a Category 1 (100% government-funded response), removing an expected industry contribution of more than $20 million under the PSHB Eradication Response Plan.

Through this project GIA also established a network of extension officers based in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania/South Australia and Western Australia/Northern Territory. The extension officers support levy payers by bringing the latest best management practices, environmental and natural resource stewardship, and high-health plant production information directly to production nurseries.

In 2022 The project extension officers delivered more than1,200 grower visits, 253 mini technical skills courses to 1,431 industry personnel, seven workshops, 22 information articles, and six technical papers. Registered users of the Pest ID Tool (pestid.com.au) were added (now totalling 2,770) and 986 individual eLearning courses were completed by growers and staff.

Last year, the extension team gave 132 growers access to GIA’s web-based business record management system (Audit Management System). This system allows growers and staff to upload field data into pre-formed templates via their phones. This uploaded information is stored on the platform so growers can collect and download information to inform decision-making or generate reports on data trends over time. 

This field data includes pesticide management and application, irrigation water and growing media quality data, pest monitoring, inspection, and surveillance records. The platform also allows growers to set job tasks for staff and digitally manage their progress to completion. 

The project has introduced the technical information library (nurseryproductionfms.com.au)  to growers. In the past year, more than 5,000 Australian Plant Production Standard (APPS) website users viewed over 38,000 pages of technical information to support plant production. 

The project is working to improve the overall health of our green spaces. Poor tree structure, root defects, infestation with pests, and disease all contribute to the failure of new landscape tree plantings and long-term tree survivability. That’s why the project team has rewritten the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia (NIASA) Landscape Tree Stock Specification to include new advice on tree stock seedling planting, staging and growing, along with tree physiology guidance and specifications. This ensures that tree stock has the greatest chance of success, and the community gets maximum benefit.

Six more growers achieved NIASA accreditation in 2022. Three more growers gained EcoHort certification and a further six growers were certified under BioSecure HACCP. 

Growers in Tasmania and South Australia now have access to an extension officer.

Managing the pesticide Minor Use Permit (MUP) program has ensured industry has access to modern pesticides covering the hugely diverse cropping systems in nursery production and the more than 30,000 species/cultivars produced. In 2022, the NY20001 project applied for five new Minor Use Permits (MUPs). The full suite of MUPs can be found at  www.nurseryproductionfms.com.au/apps-mup-search.

The GIA project team will continue to roll out the program in 2023. The ongoing representation of industry in the national plant biosecurity system will remain a priority. This practise will ensure rules are technically justified, and the least trade-restrictive and most cost-effective outcomes are implemented by government. 

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