Sunday 11th Apr, 2021

Port Augusta boosts biosecurity with $500,000 upgrade

South Australia’s Port Augusta has undergone a $500,000 upgrade to strengthen its biosecurity measures.

An additional X-ray irradiator has been installed at the site in an attempt to improve the sterilisation rate of fruit flies.

The technology is able to produce 50 million sterile Queensland fruit flies each week at full operation, with the facility supported by a $45 million research and development partnership, SITPlus.

Fruit flies lay eggs in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and plants that then hatch and feed upon the produce before emerging as flies that then feed and breed.

South Australia’s estimated farm-gate value of produce vulnerable to fruit fly infestation was $1.2 billion in 2017-18.

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SA Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said the use of Sterile Insect Technology was a key part of eradicating outbreaks in South Australia, with the installation of the irradiator at Port August bolstering the state’s efforts.

“This sterilisation technology is not only embraced by South Australia but also by other states, with flies produced at Port Augusta also deployed in New South Wales and Victoria,” Whetstone said.

“This second irradiator gives us the opportunity to speed up the rate of flies irradiated at any one time, making more flies available to be used in our fight against the pest and ensures there is an active contingency plan in place in future should there ever be a fault with one of the irradiators.

“SIT flies produced at Port Augusta have been released at Loxton to assist in eradicating the Queensland fruit fly outbreak.”

Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the Port Augusta facility has played a critical role in the fight against fruit fly in South Australia.

“South Australia is leading the way on Sterile Insect Technology and it’s occurring right here in Port Augusta,” said van Holst Pellekaan.