National program announced to tackle biosecurity risk in Australia

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National program announced to tackle biosecurity risk in Australia

The Federal Government has announced $6.2 million in funding for a four year research program into biocontrol solutions for Australia’s 10 most invasive weed species based off consultation with industry and farmer groups. In conjunction with contributions from other stakeholders, the total value will be $13 million. The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation will be the managing agency and project partners include the CSIRO, Goulburn Murray Water and numerous State bodies. The research program is in response to the weeds costing Australia $400 million per year through impacts on soil, water and natural resources which the agricultural sector rely on, this represents a significant biosecurity risk.

Biocontrol solutions are when the natural enemies of an invasive plant are introduced to reduce their impact. While failures can be catastrophic, such as the introduction of Cane Toads to control Cane Beetles, there have also been many successes and it is the preferable model as it requires minimal ongoing investment once the biocontrol agents have been introduced. RIRDC state that the historical benefits outweigh R&D costs by over 23:1.

The weeds targeted are:

-African boxthorn
-cabomba
-prickly acacia
-sagittaria
-silverleaf nightshade
-fleabane
-sowthistle
-mother-of-millions
-giant rat’s tail grass
-ox-eye daisy


 

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