Hundreds of thousands of sterile fruit flies will drop from the sky over the Adelaide region today kicking off a bold plan to reduce the numbers of an endemic pest.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said the sterile flies would reduce Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) numbers because the flies they mate with will not be able to reproduce.
“The new sterile insect technology (SIT) could be a game changer for Australian horticulture,” Minister Littleproud said.
“Less fruit flies equals more fruit with less pesticide, great crops and profits for farmers.
“More profit for farmers means they spend more money in town which creates more regional jobs.
“While SIT has been effective in California and Guatemala, this project is breaking new ground with some of Australia’s leading fruit fly experts on board.
“This trial is the first step in the process, trialling the equipment used to deploy the flies from a plane, following the extensive baiting and trapping to ensure its effectiveness.
“A release of two million male sterile fruit flies is planned for April 2018 to combat recent incursions in South Australia.
“Sustainable management of Qfly is vital to Australia’s $10.3 billion horticultural sector—this pest costs the horticultural sector $300 million each year in lost markets.”
It’s hoped Hort Innovation can commercialise production and delivery of sterile male Qfly.
The Government’s Rural R&D for Profit project provided $2.35 million for a project led by the CSIRO to create optimal conditions for SIT fly releases. The aerial offensive was part of SITPlus—a $45 million research and development partnership set to transform Qfly management in Australia.
Source: Australian Government