A Northern Territory (NT) project is training dogs to detect citrus canker using synthetic compounds that mimic the scent of plants infected with the disease.
Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the Australian Government provided $265,000 to the project through its Immediate Assistance Fund.
“Citrus canker is a serious bacterial disease of citrus with the potential to devastate Australia’s healthy citrus industry,” Minister Littleproud said.
“The detector dog trial has been a great success, with one dog demonstrating a 96% detection accuracy rate, and another a 94% detection accuracy rate.
“It shows how effective detector dogs can be in protecting our biosecurity.
“In this case it has also shown dogs can be trained on multiple odours, including Siam weed – one of the world’s worst weeds, with a phenomenal growth rate.
“Northern Australia poses a high-risk pathway for exotic pests and diseases like citrus canker that threaten our agriculture productivity, exports, and the environment.
“The successful trial is great news as it will allow for the rapid deployment of dogs to enable early detection of pests and diseases.
“Innovative projects like this help us to respond swiftly and effectively to potential biosecurity risks to safeguard our vital agriculture industries and environment.”
The Australian Government’s Immediate Assistance Fund assists state and territory governments and industry to rapidly respond to, or prepare for, significant exotic pest and disease incursions.
Citrus canker was successfully eradicated from Australia in 2020 following its detection in NT and WA in 2017.
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