Fighting dieback in Queensland

Joint Media Release

Fighting dieback in Queensland

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud

Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry

Member for Flynn, Kevin O’Dowd

23 March 2019

  • $6 million for priority research into pasture dieback in Central Queensland
  • Dieback is a serious issue for graziers and the $11.5 billion beef industry
  • MLA will run the project to find effective control measures

The Coalition Government and MLA will invest $6 million into research aimed at finding a way to end pasture dieback. 

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said research would be funded in partnership with Meat and Livestock Australia.

“Dieback has been killing off vast pastures in Central Queensland and this will help us get on top of it,” Minister Littleproud said.

“I welcome MLA’s offer to match the $3 million we’re putting in the project.

“This is a great example of government and industry working together to solve a problem.

“Central Queensland is beef country but its billion dollar industry has been put at risk.

“We have strong evidence an insect less than 1mm long, known as the mealybug is the culprit.

“The threat of broadleaf invasion in areas where pasture grasses have died is also a concern.

“This project will build a comprehensive understanding of the mealybug so we know when it is most vulnerable.

“This will build the knowledge needed to eventually stop the mealybug and the spread of dieback.”

The project will:

  • study the field biology of mealybug to find when to best target it in its lifecycle
  • track and predict the spread of dieback using satellite information to identify hotspots
  • identify the mealybug’s natural enemies
  • identify grasses resistant to mealybug and explore if they could be planted as pasture.

Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said this was a vital project for local graziers.

“Pastoral dieback is affecting more than three million hectares of prime grazing land in Queensland,” Mr O’Dowd said.

“It has had a significant financial and social impact on most of the rural communities in my electorate.

“I welcome this funding for studies into how to exterminate the mealybug responsible for Pastoral Dieback.”

Hard-working Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said dieback had taken Central Queensland by stealth and now threatened the very Beef Capital status the region is famous for.

“This dieback is imparting equal parts mystery and fear on our graziers here in CQ and it appears to be getting worse,” Minister Landry said.

“There is hardly a more important relationship than that of the beef industry with the Central Queensland economy and I for one am acutely aware of the threat dieback makes to production levels.

“I am very pleased Minister Littleproud has been able to deliver this funding through MLA because our graziers are crying out for an answer.”

Fast Facts:

  • Pasture dieback is a poorly understood condition that causes poor growth and death of otherwise very productive pastures.
  • The condition has been identified in a range of sown and native grasses in north Queensland, Mackay-Whitsunday, central Queensland, Wide Bay-Burnett and south east Queensland regions.
  • The condition causes large losses in beef production and is a major concern for the Queensland grazing industry.
  • MLA has invested $2 million over 18 months to better understand the extent of pasture dieback, identify the potential causes and develop short- and long-term management methods.

/Public Release. View in full here.