Industry biosecurity day a success

01 September 2022

Yesterday KVH and Zespri jointly hosted a Kiwifruit Grower Biosecurity Day, providing the opportunity for everyone to learn more about work underway to protect the industry from unwanted pests and diseases.

Key research findings, and practical examples of research the industry has been taking part in were discussed, with Dr Chandan Pal, Innovation Manager at Zespri setting the scene for the day with a great update and round-up of the research underway that underpins our ability to be prepared - particularly for our highest risk threats, such as the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF).

Dr Julie Urban from Pennsylvania State University in the USA joined the event virtually to discuss what has been learnt in the states about impacts and management of this pest. How the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is preparing for SLF was delved into by Erin Lane, KVH’s Biosecurity Advisor.

Similarly, Yanika Reiter, also a Biosecurity Advisor at KVH, presented an interesting update on being prepared to battle unwanted butterflies and moths should they arrive on our shores and potentially establish within our orchards.

The theme of preparedness and being ready to respond continued in a talk on what happens behind the scenes when a formal response is activated. This specifically focussed on how notification works between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and industry bodies such as KVH; how quickly responses are set up and teams/functions put in place and staffed; and how KVH activates KiwiNet so that members – who champion biosecurity within their organisations – can contribute their people and resources to the response.

Readiness isn’t all about pests though. Linda Peacock from KVH and Robert Taylor from the Ministry for Primary Industries Plant Health and Environment Laboratory (PHEL) separately presented on industry surveillance and looking out for unusual symptoms on vines, and then where samples go to be looked into.

Members of the kiwifruit industry often report unusual vine symptoms to KVH, which we investigate to determine the likely cause, and what actions may be required to manage risk. Often this investigation is undertaken with support from a diagnostic lab, with PHEL, our primary contact if there are any grounds to suspect a new to New Zealand organism may be involved.

Surveillance was also discussed by Andrew McConnell from KVH in his exciting presentation on the wild kiwifruit control programme, and technology that will make it easier to spot infestations from space.

Enjoyed before the end of the event was a series of demonstration stations for attendees to take part in, to see and experience new technology and tools for the kiwifruit industry. There were popular stations on the new Onside app functionality for traceability; making the most of the online Weather & Disease Portal and weather and disease prediction tools; Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) trapping; testing for Phytophthora; and on-orchard biosecurity plan templates.

The event takes place annually and as per previous years it was recorded, with videos from the day available shortly – we’ll keep you updated.