Growing Innovation: Issue 6, May 2, 2016

Curbing the effects of Magpie Geese on mango orchards

A recent workshop in the Northern Territory saw over 40 people come together in an effort to curtail the effects of Magpie Geese on mango orchards.

Over the last decade, mango farmers in northern Australia have reported increasing numbers of Magpie Geese congregating in mango orchards. The birds cause extensive damage to fruit, trees, and irrigation equipment.

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss a new collaborative project between Hort Innovation and Charles Darwin University (CDU) which aims to understand the population and behavioural dynamics of the birds, and develop longer term mitigation strategies to protect farms from losses in production and profitability.

The project will look to understand the environmental drivers of Magpie Geese movement, at both the individual and population level, which is essential in finding why they are moving from their native wetlands into mango orchards.

Dr Hamish Campbell, CDU Project Leader will oversee the initiative with the majority of on-ground work to be undertaken by CDU PhD student Amelie Corriveau. The project is also strongly supported by the NT Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, with Dr Warren Hunt a key driver of the project, and by mango growers, the Australian Mango Industry Association and NT Farmers.

Martina Matzner, mango grower and General Manager of Acacia Hills Farms – a mango orchard in the Northern Territory, hosted the workshop at her farm, and is one of many mango growers at the forefront of the issue.

“It’s generally acknowledged in the industry that Magpie Geese have significant impact on the profitability of farms, with possibly up to 50 per cent loss of production on average across Australian mango orchards,” said Martina.

“The project will generate data for the losses in production and map the problem areas, which will help the industry understand the depth and breadth of the problem.”

“The goal of the project is to develop a professional, scientifically supported, sustainable and also practical Mango Geese damage mitigation plan.”

Martina says the growers who attended the workshop represented the majority of the NT mango production area.

“The issue is very close to the heart of mango growers so the project and the workshop was very important.”

“We need to protect our crops to remain profitable, however we also need to recognise our responsibility towards our native flora and fauna.”

“To have Hort Innovation funding and support for this project is of upmost importance. The workshop hopefully reinstated trust amongst all participants working together towards finding a satisfactory outcome for the mango industry.”

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