Crop pests and diseases are set to increase, as the weather warms up, prompting a call to growers to increase surveillance and reporting efforts.
Department of Agriculture and Food grains biosecurity officer Jeff Russell said while protracted rainfall and cooler temperatures had delayed the onset of pest and diseases, there were increasing reports of widespread activity.
Mr Russell said it was important for landholders to be on the lookout for any unusual pests, diseases and crop symptoms and to report them to the department immediately.
“It is important to maintain crop surveillance right through the growing season and to regularly inspect crops and pastures and report pest and disease observations,” he said.
“Reporting not only provides a clear picture of the pest and disease impact this year, but also assists with planning for next season, as well as future research efforts. Reporting could facilitate an effective response to an exotic detection.”
The department is still encouraging reports of both the absence and presence of Russian wheat aphid, which has not been found in Western Australia, but has been detected in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
Mr Russell said surveillance was one of the pillars of effective farm biosecurity.
“Each year endemic or local pests cost the grains industry millions of dollars, due to lost production, reduced grain quality and control costs,” he said.
“Good farm biosecurity is imperative to protect growers’ properties from the entry and spread of pests and disease. It is as much about keeping existing pests out or under control, as it is keeping exotic pests from overseas or interstate.”
Growers are asked to take photographs using their smart phone and to send them with a quick and easy report to the department via its free MyPestGuide and Pestfax Reporter apps, which are available on the department’s website.