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Top biosecurity award for ‘CropSafe’

Grain Central, March 9, 2017

Agriculture Victoria’s CropSafe program – which made a rapid response to last year’s Russian wheat aphid (RWA) outbreak possible – has taken out a prestigious Australian Biosecurity award.

CropSafe is an early warning system for the grains industry that partners with more than 180 volunteer agronomists to detect outbreaks of exotic pests and diseases.

The program is delivered by Agriculture Victoria, at the core of the CropSafe team are Grains Industry Networks Program Manager Kellyanne Harris, seasonal risk agronomists Dale Boyd and Dale Grey, Research Agronomist Frank Henry, Plant Surveillance Senior Officer Martin Mebalds, and Grains Pathology Services Project Officer Luise Sigel.

The awards recognise individuals, groups or organisations in government that have demonstrated a significant contribution to maintaining Australia’s biosecurity integrity, and are a federal initiative of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The national accolade has acknowledged CropSafe’s novel, and cost-effective, surveillance ability to detect pest and disease incursions as soon as possible.

“The program is almost ten years old, but it has really gained ground within the past few years, particularly with the Russian wheat aphid outbreak in June last year,” Ms Harris said.

“It was a CropSafe agronomist who first detected and reported the outbreak,” she said.

More than 85 per cent of Victoria’s grains agronomists are part of CropSafe’s volunteer network.

“CropSafe quickly co-ordinated training to help volunteer agronomists identify Russian wheat aphids, rolling out a rapid and extensive crop surveillance initiative in a timeframe that would not have been possible without the program,” Ms Harris said.

CropSafe provides direct benefits to industry with a parallel suite of online and social media tools, including Twitter, emails, SMS and an App, and a working synergy across parallel projects, such as eXtensionAUS and GrowNotesTM Alert to aid in getting out crucial information in the most timely and effective ways possible.

“These social media communications are high impact, with the 17 GrowNotesTM Alert tweets in the 2016 season generating more than 2800 impressions each,” she said.

“The success of the program has led other jurisdictions to express interest in adopting the CropSafe model.”

Source: Agriculture Victoria. For more information about the CropSafe program, visit the Agriculture Victoria website, http://go.vic.gov.au/Y4RspK

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