Hi-tech traps on trial in fruit fly surveillance programme

Biosecurity New Zealand’s National Fruit Fly Surveillance programme is trialling 60 state-of-the-art traps, with the aim to bolster the detection of exotic fruit fly.

“We have a world-class biosecurity system, but the growth in global trade and travel increases the opportunity for fruit flies to enter the country,” says Biosecurity New Zealand director diagnostic & srveillance services Veronica Herrera.

“Exotic fruit fly incursions could significantly impact New Zealand’s horticulture industry, so early detection is critical.”

The fruit fly surveillance programme runs from September to July each year to coincide with the heightened risk of fruit flies entering New Zealand. More than 7,800 traps are currently stationed across the country. Continue reading

Biosecurity NZ steps up stink bug campaign

Biosecurity New Zealand is ramping up a public awareness campaign to encourage people to report possible sightings of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) – a major threat to Aotearoa New Zealand’s horticulture industry.

BMSB infests several horticultural crops, causing damage to flowers, stems, leaves and fruit of host plants. Significant crops likely to be affected in New Zealand include apples, corn, wine grapes, kiwifruit, and a range of stone fruit varieties.

Funded jointly by Biosecurity New Zealand and industry members of the BMSB Council, the summer campaign will run from November to March, targeting local gardeners and online shoppers who receive goods from overseas.

Biosecurity New Zealand is well prepared for the high-risk season, says Stuart Anderson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s deputy director-general. Continue reading

Tackling invasive pests using environmental DNA tops the NZ Biosecurity Awards

Exceptional biosecurity leadership and its role in protecting our economic security were celebrated last night at the 2022 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

Wilderlab’s innovative technology, eDNA, won the Mondiale VGL Innovation Award, and took out the Supreme Award.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said:

“Wilderlab claimed top spot because of its focus on innovation to protect against a range of biosecurity threats.

“Just a cupful of water is all it takes New Zealand company WilderLab to find invasive pest species.

“The technology developed by Wilderlab detects genetic material in the environment, which means thousands of kilometres of New Zealand’s waterways are being monitored for tens of thousands of species every week.

“Early detection of invasive organisms means we can act quickly to locate and successfully eradicate invasive pest species.”

Continue reading

Testing for Mycoplasma bovis is stepped up after new strain identified

Summer testing for Mycoplasma bovis will be stepped up after New Zealand’s nationwide surveillance programme identified a new strain of the disease on one of the four confirmed positive properties, which are all in Mid Canterbury

When announcing this, M. bovis programme director Simon Andrew said recently completed genomic testing from a single property – which was previously confirmed with M.bovis – had identified the strain.

“This strain doesn’t behave any differently than the strain we have been dealing with, and our existing testing will pick it up, as it has done in this case. It doesn’t affect our efforts to eradicate M. bovis from New Zealand.”

Mr Andrew said a thorough investigation was under way into historic pathways, which included recorded and unrecorded animal movements dating back to 2018, imported feed and farm machinery, and frozen semen imported prior to the tightening of import health standards for bovine germplasm. Continue reading

Additional M. bovis infection reported inside Controlled Area Notice boundary

Another Mycoplasma bovis property has been found inside the Wakanui area of Mid-Canterbury where strict biosecurity measures, including a controlled area notice (CAN), were announced last week to eliminate a pocket of infection in the area

Mycoplasma bovis programme director Simon Andrew confirmed that a property in the red area of the CAN is infected.

Testing is being conducted on another property in the area which is likely to be confirmed infected in the coming weeks, he said.

The CAN, which comes into force on 13 October, is a precautionary measure to restrict the movement of cattle in an effort to stop M. bovis circulating in the area and coincides with the planned depopulation of a nearby feedlot, which is an important next step toward eradication. Continue reading

Culling of cows is planned among measures to target pocket of Mycoplasma bovis infection

The Ministry for Primary Industries announced today it will begin culling cows on a huge feedlot, near Ashburton, which is infected with Mycoplasma bovis.

Stock will be culled on eight farms in the high-risk area.   Six farms in an area designated “at-risk” will undergo increased testing.

Reporting this news, RNZ recalled the Government’s announcement in May that after working to rid New Zealand of the disease, the feedlot was the only infected property remaining.

But two more properties have tested positive since then .

The Five Star Beef feedlot in Ashburton, owned by ANZCO Foods, farms about 12,000 cattle.

Culling will begin on the feedlot in mid-October and nearby farms must be “depopulated” by mid-January, a press statement from  Biosecurity New Zealand says. Continue reading

Australian plan to tackle threat from devastating myrtle rust fungus

A national survey has been conducted to help save Australian native species from the devastating myrtle rust disease.

A national living collections database of myrtle rust-susceptible plant species will be created from the survey, open to those across the and Botanic Gardens Australian and New Zealand (BGANZ) network and beyond with species from the family myrtaceae in their collections.

Myrtle rust spores are microscopic and the disease is spread mostly via wind, but the thousands of spores can also be spread via wildlife, infected plant material, contaminated equipment, clothing and vehicles.

The disease can cause deformed leaves, heavy defoliation of branches, reduced fertility, dieback, stunted growth and plant death.

The wind is believed to have carried spores to this country from Australia, where myrtle rust was first found in 2010. Continue reading

Invasive pests cost NZ more than $12 billion, research shows

Weeds, rodents, stoats, possums, fire ants and other invasive species cost New Zealand about $170 million per year, according to new research by the University of Auckland and the University of Aberdeen in collaboration with CNRS (the French National Centre for Scientific Research).

From 1968 to 2020, the cost was about $12.4 billion, report the researchers, who used a database called Invacost, which was launched in France to boost understanding of the worldwide economic toll of invasive species.

The amounts include damage to agricultural crops, timber products, and human health and the money spent on preventing and managing pest invasions. Continue reading

Trans-Tasman agriculture ministers discuss biosecurity co-operation

Biosecurity co-operation topped the agenda when Australia and New Zealand’s agriculture ministers met yesterday.

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt met with his New Zealand counterpart, Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity, and Rural Communities in a conference call, which had particular focus on foot and mouth disease (FMD).

Minister Watt said biosecurity is a central component of Australia’s close and productive relationship with New Zealand amid a range of common risks, especially the FMD outbreak in Indonesia. Continue reading

Axel Heiser on the grim spectre of foot-and-mouth disease

AXEL HEISER, a Principal Scientist at AgResearch, says the spectre of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), and the devastating impacts an outbreak would have for New Zealand, looms large as other countries in the region grapple with outbreaks. He writes:

While the actual risk of Foot-and-Mouth disease spreading to New Zealand from the current outbreak zone in Indonesia is not considered high, and it is reassuring to see it being treated with utmost seriousness by our authorities, it is unnerving nonetheless for people to see news reports such as those out of Australia recently about viral fragments being detected in imported food products (though these are not infectious and FMD has not spread into Australia at the time of writing this piece).

The impact of FMD becoming established in New Zealand cannot be underestimated, with a significant economic shock and losses estimated in the area of $16 billion over four to five years as food exports are heavily affected. There will be a massive impact from mass culling of farmed animals on the wellbeing of farmers, those in rural communities and the general public. Continue reading