Pest patrol pilot plan

PESTS lurking in grain farms have been put on notice. 

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries has launched a project to collect small insects from grain storages and help determine what chemicals they are resistant to.

DEPI Grains Industry biosecurity officer Jim Moran said the trial would be crucial to figuring out different levels of resistance, and finding the most effective ways to kill insects.

He said controlling pests was a major issue, including weevils getting into grain.

"It's a big problem and a lot of it goes unseen because it's hidden in the grain storages," he said.

It's a big problem and a lot of it goes unseen - Jim Moran, DEPI

"They'll destroy the grain that's in the storage, which reduces the quality. But also you can't deliver live insects in your grain and receiver points don't accept live insects so that reduces your marketability." 

Mr Moran said he was calling on farmers across central Victoria to be part of the project, funded by the National Cooperative Research Centre for Plant Biosecurity.

He is hoping to collect 100 insects of various species from each farm. Each will be tested for phosphine resistance and possibly some of the grain protectants.

About 150 farms will be tested throughout Victoria.

"I'd like to come and visit farms in February and March," Mr Moran said.

"It will help us manage the resistance better and not allow the resistance to get to work."

Mr Moran said the findings would be part of a nation-wide study that could help tackle pests around Australia.

"The starting point for that is to find out how big the problem is," he said.

"It will feed into the national picture.

"From there there'll be a more intense effort to raise the issue and a lot more training on grain storages to reduce the pests."

He said he has been involved in biosecurity projects before but none of this sort of size or importance.

"I think the scale of it is unprecedented," he said.

Anyone interested in volunteering to have samples collected from their properties to test for chemical resistance can contact the DEPI.

Mr Moran said all results would be confidential.

He said once on site, the sampling process will be explained and the farmer will be asked questions about the commodity stored, pesticides used and about any pest problems.

Free biosecurity and grain storage information will be provided.

To get involved contact Jim Moran on 5430 4479, 0418377 930 or by email at Jim.Moran@depi.vic.gov.au

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