Ag Tech

SA’s invasive grain snails come to life in 3D

Grain Central, February 5, 2024

The platform will provide growers more information on each snail pest species. Photo: GPSA

AN AUSTRALIAN-FIRST project that has turned exotic invasive snails into three dimensional models has been launched today.

Grain Producers SA teamed up with agtech business Think.Digital to create an interactive website incorporating 17 snail pest species that are either present in South Australia and/or listed as a risk to grain production.

The project has been funded by the Australian Government through the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation program.

GPSA chief executive officer Brad Perry said the project aimed to inform grain producers, and to educate the supply chain, the public and schoolchildren about species of exotic invasive snails that damage crops and the environment.

“We’ve recreated South Australia’s most invasive grain snails in 3D to raise greater awareness of the pests to grain producers and the public,” Mr Perry said.

“This online accessible tool demonstrates how we can use technology to help identify our pests and understand them better, without even stepping foot on a farm.

“One of the interesting things we discovered during this project is that some species of exotic invasive snails have very little known about them globally, particularly about their history and the impact they could cause to the grain sector or environment in the state if established.

“A prime example of this is the lens snail, currently being eradicated at a South Australian port, but its discovery came with much less information about the pest than you’d expect.”

Think.Digital chief executive officer Kat Bidstrup said the project came about when GPSA identified a need to raise awareness about invasive snails and to aid growers to identify, report and eradicate them.

“When it comes to biosecurity, we know that awareness is a key pillar of preparedness, so providing an innovative tool to engage growers about the various invasive snails seemed like a clever idea,” Mrs Bidstrup said.

“We know that most farmers are visual learners, so creating a sense of how the snail might appear in real life, straight from a computer screen, would allow self-paced investigation as well as provide a training and education tool, even in the classroom.

“We collected reference images and data from GPSA and our artist set about creating our family of 3D snails.

“Snail experts at the South Australian Research and Development Institute provided input to ensure accurate representations were built.

“Each of the snails can be rotated and closely studied, includes a coin for size reference, as well as fact sheets and links for more information, making this a truly engaging, immersive and educational tool for both producers and students.”

Mrs Bidstrup said the 3D snail website is the first of its kind.

“GPSA is certainly leading the field with this.

“There are existing reference websites with 2D photos and descriptions, but this is the first 3D interactive tool to aid identification.

“With the use of immersive, interactive technology, we can be at the forefront of any kind of pest or disease identification and ultimately management in agriculture.

“We can create engaging tools to help farmers recognise potential biosecurity threats, without having to leave their own property.”

Source: Grain Producers South Australia

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