Pollination Plus partnership
Hort Innovation and top local and international researchers have combined forces with Australian growers in a multi-million dollar effort to enhance and support existing pollinators, and identify the most effective pollination methods for various horticulture crop types.
Led by Hort Innovation, with a combined $12 million commitment with Western Sydney University (WSU) and Plant & Food Research (PFR) so far, Pollination Plus is a consortia that will see more projects and research partners come online on an as-needed basis.
The program will involve a multifaceted approach to strengthening pollination, bringing on board not only PFR and WSU, but also the skills of partners such as Syngenta, Bayer, Crop Life Asia and Greening Australia, to date.
Key topics of investigation will include:
- Understanding and managing bee threats including Varroa mite (pictured above) and American Foulbrood, and the impacts of environmental factors such as climate change and pesticide use
- Experimenting with non-traditional pollinators to determine which pollinators are ideal for maximum yield across a number of horticultural products
- Creating better conditions for pollinators, including increasing pollen and nectar on farms.
To help shape future investments, a dedicated Pollination Expert Advisory Panel has been formed which is made up of foundation research partner representatives, and representatives from Beechworth Honey, Costa Group, Select Harvest, Graeme Smith Consulting and Fruit Growers Tasmania.
The panel will provide expert advice on new investments and broad oversight into all aspects of the research program to ensure all Pollination Plus projects achieve set objectives.
Pollination is provided by the planet’s ecosystem. It helps the growth of many fruits, vegetables, nut and flower species, and in some instances, can increase crop yield.
In Australia, pollination-dependant crops have been estimated to be worth over $4.3 billion per annum based on 2005-2006 data, with a direct contribution by honeybees (Apis mellifera) estimated to be over $1.6 billion (Hafi et al 2012).
Australia is the last country in the world where the parasitic Varroa mite has not taken hold on the European honeybee population. This mite is thought to be a major factor behind widespread colony collapses in various countries including the United States, Canada and Japan.
These tiny mites attach themselves to bees inside hives and feed from the bees, causing open wounds and transmitting viral diseases. If Varroa takes hold in Australia, it could decimate populations of both managed and wild European honey bees, and we will then be far more reliant on native pollinators.
To safeguard the health of the horticulture industry, it is important we put practical measures in place to support honey bee health and identify and develop new pollination opportunities and techniques.
Pollination Fund Investment Advisory Panel
|Ms Jodie Goldsworthy||Fourth-generation bee keeper and Director of Beechworth Honey Group: Mrs Goldsworthy has a Bachelor of Applied Science and a postgraduate degree in Strategic Marketing, is a member of the Australian Government’s Food Processing Industry Strategy Group and President of the Honey Packers and Marketers Association of Australia.|
|Mr Ben Brown||Technical Manager at Select Harvests: Responsible for many aspects of pollination at Select – Australia’s second largest almond grower and in August 2016 alone, hired over 33,000 colonies and invested over $3 million on pollination services.|
|Mr David Bardon||Southern Production Manager at CostaExchange: David is Production Manager for the berry category, based in Tasmania.|
|Dr David Pattemore||Science Team Leader at Pollination and Apiculture at Plant & Food Research-NZ: Mr Pattemore has a PhD in pollination at Princeton University with extensive experience in the technical skills required in the fields of pollination and apiculture.|
|Dr Nisha Rakhesh||Research Development Advisor at Western Sydney University: Dr Rakhesh has 15 years’ experience in translational research, knowledge gap analysis and in practice change management with the agricultural and horticultural industries both in Australia and overseas.|
|Mr Phil Pyke||Business Development Manager at Fruit Growers Tasmania Inc: Mr Pyke sits on several boards and reference panels, including the Agriculture Skills Task Force and the Fruit and Vegetable Task Force Export Working Group.|
|Graeme Smith||Managing Director at Graeme Smith Consulting: Mr Smith is a protected cropping specialist and has involvement with the Australian Hydroponic and Greenhouse Association and Protected Cropping Australia.|
|Dr Greg Murdoch||Fund Manager at Horticulture Innovation Australia|
|Dr Alok Kumar||Relationship Manager Strategic Co-Investment at Horticulture Innovation Australia|
Project name: Pollination Plus partnership
Project number: .
Dr Alok Kumar
T 03 9691 3521
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This project has been funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited with co-investment from Plant & Food Research and Western Sydney University and funds from the Australian Government.