Innovation in Top End

The Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia
  • New facilities at the Berrimah Farm Science Precinct offer innovative opportunities to enhance biosecurity surveillance, diagnostics, preparedness and response across northern Australia.
  • The Australian Government is working closely with the NT government and Top End stakeholders on innovative ways to reduce the impact of costs of managing biosecurity risks.
  • The new facilities at the Berrimah Farm Science Precinct offer innovative opportunities to enhance biosecurity surveillance, diagnostics, preparedness and response across northern Australia, while offering scope to leverage further investment to support innovative research and development to support the expansion of northern industries.

    Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the Berrimah Farm had implemented numerous innovative approaches and technologies to stay ahead of biosecurity risks and reduce costs to industry of incursions by exotic pests and diseases.

    “Innovation is critical for Top End biosecurity, that is why we have invested $3.5 million in this facility,” Minister Littleproud said.

    “Northern Australia is a high-risk zone for an incursion of exotic pests and diseases such as exotic fruit fly and African swine fever, because of its proximity to countries to our north and the existence of natural biosecurity risk pathways.

    “The Australian Government is working closely with the NT government and Top End stakeholders on innovative ways to reduce the impact of costs of managing biosecurity risks.

    “This includes through enhancing and expanding how and where detector dogs can be used. Recent trials have shown detector dogs successfully picking up the scent of Citrus Canker and Siam Weed.

    “We are exploring novel diagnostic approaches including environmental DNA, known as eDNA, to quickly detect the presence of a biosecurity pests such as Khapra beetle in imported goods.

    “We are working with stakeholders to develop electronic-nose technology which will provide opportunities for early detection where it is unsafe or inconvenient for odour detection dogs.

    “Spectral imagery combined with Artificial Intelligence will help demonstrate that products are free from pests to help facilitate trade and market access.

    “Innovative projects like this help us to respond swiftly and effectively to potential biosecurity risks to safeguard our vital agriculture industries and environment.

    “Working together with industry, communities and state and territory governments, we are focusing on implementing new approaches and technologies to enhance biosecurity outcomes for northern Australia.”

    The Australian Government’s Northern Australia Biosecurity Strategy builds on actions already taken by the Australian Government to drive agriculture’s competitiveness and growth, laying the foundations to support industry reach the target of $100 billion in farmgate value by 2030.”

    Fast facts

    • The Australian Government is also investigating the use of RingIR, which similar to eDNA, enables us to take samples and make critical decisions in real-time.
    • Each chemical has a “molecular fingerprint” just like humans have unique fingerprints. The RingIR technology can quickly measure and identify the molecules in the atmosphere and identify the specific chemical present in that environment.
    • We are testing whether the technology can identify and quantitate fumigants for the purpose of shipping container inspections and whether the technology can also be expanded to detect hitchhiker pests.
    • If successful, both technologies present rapid, non-destructive, and inexpensive ways to test for multiple species of concern across the biosecurity continuum.

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