Following a mix of in-person and virtual engagement activities in 2021, the peri-urban project has hit the ground running in 2022. AUSVEG Project Coordinator Maddy Quirk is working with vegetable growers, consultants, agronomists, and the state governments to investigate peri-urban biosecurity across Virginia in South Australia, Werribee (Victoria) and Sydney Basin (New South Wales) before the project ends mid-year.

The AUSVEG-led Peri-Urban Biosecurity Pilot Program is an 18-month vegetable industry-focused program that commenced in January 2021. It is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

With COVID-19 lockdowns ending in Victoria in late 2021, Project Coordinator Maddy Quirk was able to travel to Virginia, Werribee and the Sydney Basin to explore the concept of pest and disease management across the peri-urban landscape, obtaining insight from growers and industry alike.

Planning large group events had its challenges due to differing state COVID restrictions, and the project team needed to get creative in the ways it engaged. From one-on-one visits to agronomist workshops and outdoor open houses, the project team has achieved a number of successful outcomes over the past 12 months.

Grower visits and training workshop: Virginia, South Australia

In early 2022, AUSVEG and Primary Industries and Regions South Australia – South Australia Research and Development Institute (PIRSA-SARDI) undertook a grower roadshow, visiting a consortium of hydroponic and greenhouse vegetable producers in Virginia.

During these visits, the project team collected cucumber, capsicum, and tomato samples for free diagnostic testing and spoke with growers about endemic pest and disease management practices. Their invaluable insight gave the team a deeper understanding of not only their cropping programs but the wider region.

The following day, AUSVEG and PIRSA-SARDI facilitated an interactive session with a registered training organisation based in Virginia, which employs agronomists working closely with vegetable growers in the region. The session was centred around discussions on practical management of endemic pests and diseases, biosecurity, and sample submission.

There was also a hands-on disease identification session and a competition to guess the correct amount of soil needed for testing.

Werribee open house

The following week, AUSVEG facilitated an open house in Werribee. Growers, agronomists and vegetable industry members in attendance learnt about native vegetation insectaries and pest and disease management.

Agriculture Victoria researchers presented on sampling for key viral and bacterial diseases. Sample bags and forms were distributed to attendees, who were encouraged to return to Agriculture Victoria’s Crop Health Services for testing.

Sydney grower visits

In early April, AUSVEG worked with consultants around Kemps Creek in the Sydney Basin and visited seven vegetable growers whose crops included cucumber, tomato and eggplant.

Examining each crop for signs of diseases, samples were collected for diagnostics to support practical management strategies and decision-making on-farm.

Surveillance updates

Over the past 12 months, AUSVEG has developed and refined a pest and disease surveillance program that captures key information on endemic pests and diseases.

Working with crop consultants from the three pilot locations, AUSVEG receives reports of key pests and diseases that are being observed each week. Using this information, AUSVEG develops a traffic light system for key issues to watch out for.

The aim of these guides is to indicate the current issues within a region at a given time, based on expert advice. The surveillance updates also provide information on high priority plant pests.

As this project comes to a close, growers and consultants across Werribee, the Sydney Basin and Virginia are encouraged to contact Maddy to express their interest and provide feedback on the program.

Invaluable project support

AUSVEG would like to thank the Agronomist Advisory Group and Project Steering Committee for providing their support, time and expertise on this project for the advancement of the vegetable industry.

The peri-urban biosecurity pilot project would not have been possible without the involvement of these groups.

Webinar recordings now available

Did you miss out on attending a peri-urban event?

In 2021, AUSVEG recorded webinars on key pests and diseases including fungal and bacterial diseases, tospoviruses, cucurbit diseases and exotic leafminers.

Recordings are available on the AUSVEG YouTube channel.

Find out more

Please contact AUSVEG on 03 9882 0277 or email Further information can be found here.

The Peri-Urban Biosecurity Pilot Program is funded through the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment – Plant Biosecurity and Response Reform.

Cover image: A cucumber crop in Sydney Basin, New South Wales.