Livestock

DNA, drones and virtual reality to tackle biosecurity risks

By Country News

A range of new projects are being funded by the Federal Government to strengthen the nation’s biosecurity system.

DNA fingerprinting for imported dogs, virtual reality training for officers and drones to manage feral pigs are among the innovative projects being funded.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said innovative technologies were needed to counteract the threats to Australia's biosecurity.

“The latest round of funded projects include DNA fingerprinting for imported dogs, which will aim to improve how we verify compliance with our import conditions,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Another will look into the use of virtual reality to train our biosecurity officers and using remote sensing technologies, such as drones, to identify and quantify feral pig populations.

“Remote sensing could provide a valuable management tool for feral pigs and help in our fight to protect Australia from African swine fever and other exotic diseases carried by pigs.

“We are building on the success of the 3D X-rays by funding a project that will allow them to automatically detect seeds, which will be a world first for biosecurity.

“Another project will aim to enhance our ability to detect pests on plant products at the border and to develop a deployable test for our number one plant pest, Xylella fastidiosa.”

Mr Littleproud said the initiatives were part of the $25.2 million Biosecurity Innovation Program.

“They demonstrate our commitment to working smarter and more efficiently, so we can continue protecting our industries, environment and trade from biosecurity threats.”

The business sector, universities and research entities will work in collaboration to run the projects.

“We will also be investigating what motivates people who threaten Australia’s biosecurity, which will help finds ways to influence behaviour change,” Mr Littleproud said.

For more information on the Biosecurity Innovation Program, visit: agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/research-innovation/program