Improving soilborne disease diagnostic capacity for the Australian vegetable industry (VG15009)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Using world-leading DNA testing technology, this project will provide growers with a way to assess the risk of soil-borne diseases caused by selected pathogens prior to planting. This knowledge, when applied with sound disease and soil health management strategies, will contribute to a reduction in the losses from soil-borne diseases.
What’s the latest update? In its first six months, the project has focussed on developing and selecting DNA assays to be utilised in field validation, which will then become the main activity as the project progresses. Activities have included:
- Completion of DNA test design for Plasmodiophora brassicae and development as a soil test. The assay is now ready to be progressed to evaluation in the field.
- DNA test design for Pythium sulcatum and P. violae, which are species documented as causes of cavity spot of carrots in Australia.
- Testing of soil samples from a range of vegetable paddocks across Australia, with the results – along with discussions with growers – being used to refine other pathogen targets.
- Collection of soil samples from Queensland vegetable production sites in relation to work into the southern root knot nematode species.
Innovating new virus diagnostics and planting bed management in the Australian sweet potato industry (VG13004)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project aims to build knowledge of both endemic and exotic sweet potato viruses, and to improve sweet potato virus diagnostic capacity in Australia. It has had a number of key goals and activities since it began in 2014, including:
- The review of current information on endemic and exotic viruses and diagnostic techniques
- Annual virus surveys and planting-bed monitoring in the major growing regions
- Ongoing development and implementation of virus diagnostics
- Communication activities including field walks and workshops, and materials such as fact sheets and guides.
What’s the latest update? The project’s third round of field surveys and grower monitoring is underway, and the second round of detailed plant-bed experiments have commenced in Bundaberg, Gatton and Cudgen. Some key notes from the researchers:
- Premature bedding root breakdown has become a key issue with managing plant beds of the new sweet potato cultivar Bellevue. As this cultivar is an important component of the sweet potato industry’s nematode management strategy, addressing the loss of plant beds is a project priority. Current ideas are minimising physiological age of bedding roots, absolute minimum of heat treatment (used to promote sprouting), avoiding large roots where possible, optimising bed structure, and potentially minimising nitrogen levels in plant beds, at least initially.
- Project ideas on the importance of good drainage, shallow coverage, and focussed irrigation management to maximise plant-bed productivity and longevity are becoming the norm with many growers. Current ideas are to also err on the side of low moisture and nutrition levels while initially sprouting roots in beds.
- Potentially due to a higher prevalence of domestic sweet potato gardens, and more historical sweet potato interaction with neighbouring countries, North Queensland appears to have greater presence of multiple virus infections and less common viruses. In the future it will be important to maintain a virus watch presence in this region.
- The Australian sweet potato industry is on alert for unusual symptoms that may indicate a potentially damaging incursion of a new virus (such as chlorotic stunt virus).
- The source of pathogen tested bedding roots still does not have any detectable viruses through indexing, ELISA and qPCR testing of collected samples.
- Through collaborative work with national and international scientists, the scope for improved sweet potato diagnostic procedures continues to improve. The Australian industry virus diagnostic protocols are being standardised for partners in Oceania, and are very similar to protocols more recently developed in the USA.
Investigating novel glass technologies and photovoltaic in protected cropping (VG15038)
Status: New project
What’s it all about? Kicking off in July this year, this project aims to improve energy-efficient design and energy use in greenhouses, with a focus on the use of smart glass and semi-transparent photovoltaic glass (STPVG). It will deliver a reliable and comprehensive evaluation of innovative technologies, including their economic viability and benefits.
What’s the latest update? While the project’s first report to Hort Innovation is not yet due, the approximately $1.3 million project garnered media attention after its announcement. Read Hort Innovation’s news article here.
The effects of using anhydrous ammonia to supply nitrogen to vegetable crops (VG15062)
Status: New project
What’s it all about? There is currently anecdotal evidence that anhydrous ammonia is a cost-effective and efficient method of supplying nitrogen to vegetable crops, but very little information is available to vegetable growers on how to use this fertiliser, the potential benefits and the risks. Beginning in July, this short project is reviewing available research into anhydrous ammonia (which is used widely in the cotton and grain industries), consulting with industry, and aiming to produce fact sheets for the major vegetable crops in Australia.
What’s the latest update? The researchers have drafted their review of existing information of anhydrous ammonia. This review has found that there is potential for anhydrous ammonia to be used as a source of nitrogen for vegetable crops, though it is more suited to row crops than crops such as baby leaf, which require more even distribution of nitrogen across the beds.
The researchers will now craft the information into fact sheets explaining the benefits and risks of anhydrous ammonia, to be made available to industry.
Vision systems, sensing and sensor networks to manage risks and increase productivity in vegetable production systems (VG15024)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project aims to increase on-farm productivity through the application of automation, robotics, sensing technologies (specifically hyperspectral imaging and wireless sensor networks) and vision systems.
The goal is to develop technologies that are modular so that they can be used on the most appropriate platform for the task required.
What’s the latest update? Getting fully underway earlier this year, at the time of last reporting to Hort Innovation the project was on track, with collaborative agreements signed (the project involves collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Queensland University of Technology and the CSIRO), literature reviews completed and trial work underway.
Other Farm Productivity, Resource Use & Management projects…
Specific project activity updates will be provided in future editions of Hortlink, as they become available.
» Characterisation of a carlavirus of French bean (VG15073), a new project that will better characterise a new Carlavirus identified infecting Fabaceae crops in South East Queensland; identify potential distribution and incidence of the virus in other French bean production regions of Australia; and develop management strategies for the virus in bean production.
» Review of the National Biosecurity Plan for the Vegetable Industry (VG15065), a new project that will review the industry’s current biosecurity plan to identify the highest-risk pests to the industry, the risk mitigation activities needed to reduce the biosecurity threat, and the surveillance and diagnostic activities and capabilities available.
» Management of insecticide resistance in the green peach aphid (VG12109), a recently completed project undertaken to better equip the vegetable industry with knowledge of the current state of insecticide resistance levels in green peach aphid populations across Australia. The project found widespread resistance to three major insecticide groups, and its findings have been incorporated into a regional resistance management strategy for green peach aphid. Full details can be found in the project’s final report, which will be available to order at http://horticulture.com.au/about/resources-publications-final-reports (final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies).
» Review of current irrigation technologies (VG14048), which is now due for completion and will be summarised in the next edition of Hortlink.
» Viruses of national importance to the vegetable industry (VG15008), which is wrapping up at the beginning of 2017.
» Investigating labour supply options across the Australian vegetable Industry (VG15025), an ongoing project that is investigating the labour supply needs of the industry and how they are currently being met, and identifying solutions for addressing them.
» Innovative solutions for management of tospoviruses of vegetable crops (VG14063), an ongoing project that aims to address gaps in DNA sequence information for Australian tospoviruses, which infect a broad range of horticulture crops. This information is critical for the development of diagnostics and for management. The project also aims to generate information on host-pathogen interactions that may lead to identification of novel genes for resistance and help deliver broad-spectrum resistance to tospoviruses.
» Using autonomous systems to guide vegetable decision making on-farm (VG15003), an ongoing project that is developing, evaluating and supporting the adoption and commercialisation of technologies that aim to reduce production cost and increase on-farm productivity in the vegetable industry, in particular in brassica, lettuce and baby leaf growing. These technologies include intelligent sensors and precision applicators, automated information processing systems and intelligent mobile platforms including robotics. The technologies will collectively provide timely and accurate information about crop status (including yield, quality and forecasting) and minimise input costs through the precision application of chemicals and water, and in some cases the use of non-chemical automated systems for precision crop and weed handling.
» Soil condition management – extension and capacity building (VG13076), a project in its final year that has a focus on delivering good soil management information to Australian vegetable growers via demo sites, workshops, farm walks, factsheets, email, social media and more. Visit www.soilwealth.com.au/resources/ to discover some of the resources produced as part of this project.
» Effective management of parsley summer root rot (VG13101), an ongoing project that is developing a greater understanding of summer root rot of parsley and investigating effective management options.
» Management and detection of bacterial leaf spot in capsicum and chilli crops (VG14010), and ongoing project that aims to increase the capacity of the vegetable industry to implement integrated disease management programs for bacterial leaf spot of capsicum and chilli field crops. It is identifying causal agents of the disease, reviewing existing research and filling in knowledge gaps, and investigating control measures.
» Facilitating adoption of IPM through a participatory approach with local advisors and industry – training component (VG15034) and its associated Coordination component (VG13035) and Evaluation component (VG13036). These ongoing projects are working to increase the uptake of integrated pest management practices among vegetable growers, with the overarching aim to make IPM a mainstream method of controlling pests within a decade. There is an initial focus on South Australian activities, with a view to expand to other regions.
» New in-field treatment solutions to control fruit fly (1) (VG13041) and New in-field treatment solutions to control fruit fly (2) (VG13042), ongoing projects that are developing approaches for in-field control of fruit fly in vegetable crops, to allow market access interstate and overseas.
» Extension of integrated crop protection information (VG13078), an ongoing project supporting Australian vegetable growers and other industry stakeholders in relation to integrated crop protection and decision-making about pests, weeds and diseases. It has a focus on improving knowledge and skills and supporting practice change to achieve enhanced long-term sustainability and profitability of Australian vegetable businesses.
» Improved skill for regional climate in the ACCESS-based POAMA model (VG13092). POAMA is the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology’s seasonal prediction system, and ACCESS is a new national modelling system for applications from weather forecasting to climate change projections. This project represents a component of work, evaluating improvements to the model and allowing the vegetable industry to feed into its development. The overall aim is to provide improved spatial and temporal forecasting in regions of interest for vegetable growers.
Further projects for this pillar also include…
» Investigating on farm HACCP programs for managing plant pests of biosecurity concern – an options paper (VG15051)
» Advanced stable fly management for vegetable producers (VG15002)
» Strengthened biosecurity for the Australian vegetable industry – stage 2 (VG15020)
» A multi-faceted approach to soil-borne disease management (VG15010)
» Improved management options for cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (VG15013)
» Optimising benefits of vermiculture in commercial-scale vegetable farms (VG15037)
» Evaluating and testing autonomous systems developed in VG15003 in Australian vegetable production systems (VG15059)