United front on incursions

Grains industry takes collaborative approach to bolstering biosecurity efforts


Boots can be bringing in more than one visitor to a property, with farm entry an important consideration for biosecurity measures. PHOTO GRDC

Boots can be bringing in more than one visitor to a property, with farm entry an important consideration for biosecurity measures. PHOTO GRDC


Fight against exotic entry ramped-up through national plant research initiative.


Protecting Australias plant industries against biosecurity threats is crucial to all producers in this countrys agricultural sector.

Recognising this, many of the nations plant Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) came together in 2017 to form the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI).

This pool of resources through the PBRI enabled industry to deliver an increased arsenal of research weaponry to better fight the endemic and exotic pests, diseases and weeds that could be a threat to Australias plant industries, community and the environment.

Core partners in the PBRI are:

  • GRDC
  • Cotton Research and Development Corporation
  • Forest and Wood Products Australia
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited
  • Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
  • Sugar Research Australia Limited
  • Wine Australia

The RDCs collaborate with Plant Health Australia, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and state and federal biosecurity stakeholders to support cross-sectoral research development and extension.

The main aim is to minimise the damaging consequences caused by biosecurity threats to Australian plant industries.

The PBRI is a long-term proposition with an initial agreement period of June 2017 to June 2020.

The agreement will be reviewed and re-executed on a five-yearly basis, with the intention of providing a co-ordinated and sustainable cross-sectoral RD&E initiative into the future.

The key planks are to coordinate funding for research and development, deliver vital projects and attract further co-investment.

A coordinated approach ensures this effort is aligned to broader national goals and delivered with increased efficiency, avoiding duplication.

In 2015-16, the plant RDCs collectively invested $62.9 million into biosecurity research, development and extension.

The strategic goals of the partnership include:

  • Co-ordinate investment in plant biosecurity RD&E to support Australias plant production system.
  • Promote and facilitate collaboration for better plant biosecurity outcomes.
  • Build and retain RD&E capability in plant biosecurity based on a strong culture of innovation and science.

Focus areas of the PBRI include: ensuring the industry is better prepared for the arrival of a biosecurity threat; rapid, accurate and cost-effective detection of high priority pests and diseases at the border and in-field; and cost effective and coordinated surveillance for biosecurity threats.

Other investments are being made into: pest and disease management with minimal impact to plant production; trade and the environment; and greater participation of industry in biosecurity decision-making to reduce economic and social consequences.

An example of the work in the PBRI is the flagship Rural R&D for Profit plant biosecurity research project that began in late 2017. This $21 million cross-industry initiative is the basis for a nationwide plant pest surveillance network that benefits primary producers and government.

The project will develop a mobile crossindustry plant pest surveillance network for grains, cotton, sugar, horticultural products, wine and forestry products.

Funded through the Rural R&D for Profit Program and seven plant RDCs, the initiative will underpin regional or commoditybased (or both) surveillance initiatives.

The network of 16 partners will respond to industries seasonal needs and create efficiencies to provide quality, consistent data on plant pests economically relevant across industries.

It will support claims of freedom from priority exotic pests and help detect them for delimitation during incursion responses.