The first mobile pest surveillance unit, known as a ‘sentinel’, which forms part of a nationwide R&D initiative to provide Australia’s plant industries with vital information about the presence of pests and diseases in different growing regions, will be unveiled at the Hart Field Day in South Australia on Tuesday 17 September 2019.

A total of eight sentinels will be constructed and deployed in different growing regions around Australia as part of a $21 million program called iMapPESTS: Sentinel Surveillance for Agriculture. This project is led by Hort Innovation, through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, as well with support from 17 partner organisations. The sentinel includes a suite of smart surveillance traps that capture airborne fungal spores and insects and reference them against information including GPS, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction to provide real-time data on pests and diseases in a particular region.

That data will then be fed real-time into a cloud-based system for storage and downstream analysis, and will be distributed to producers, governments and industry groups in the form of immediate alerts, general reports and an iMapPESTS user dashboard to support fast, informed and collaborative decision-making.

The iMapPESTS project aims to rapidly monitor and report the presence of priority pests and diseases to aid on-farm decision making across all plant industries of Australia, including grains, cotton, sugar, horticulture, wine and forestry.

The sentinel is being launched by South Australian Research and Development Institute researcher Dr Rohan Kimber. The Hart Field Day will also feature the launch of the iMapPESTS website, as well as a grain grower advisory group to help inform the most effective way for the vast amount of data collected by the sentinel to be communicated back to industry.

“Keeping Australia’s agricultural produce free from pests and diseases is an ongoing job that is vital to protecting the future viability of our primary production industries,” said Dr Kimber.

“The sentinels will help enhance plant industries’ pest management, biosecurity and claims of area freedom by rapidly monitoring and reporting the presence or absence of high-priority pests and diseases in a region.

“The Hart Field Day is an opportunity to show industry how the sentinel units will work, discuss how the data generated by the units can be effectively communicated to growers and demonstrate how the units can improve farm productivity and reduce farm input costs.”

According to grains grower Richard Konzag, the sentinel will be a vital tool to help inform future business decisions.

“Good information leads to better decision making, better decision-making leads to better profitability and sustainability,” said Mr Konzag.


About the project:
iMapPESTS is a national program of research, development and extension designed to put actionable information into the hands of Australia’s primary producers to enhance on-farm pest management decision-making.

The project aims to lay the foundations for a national cross-industry surveillance system that can rapidly monitor and report the presence of airborne pests and diseases affecting major agricultural sectors across the country, including grains, cotton, sugar, horticulture, wine and forestry. This will be achieved through a range of surveillance, diagnostics, modelling and engagement and adoption activities.

iMapPESTS is a five-year, $21 million program led by Hort Innovation, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, as well as 17 partner organisations from across the plant industry research and development corporations, and leading research organisations in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The project’s key audience is industries, growers and producers in the major cropping agricultural sectors of cotton, forest products, grain, horticulture, sugarcane, wine grape, and emerging plant crops, and includes agricultural service professionals in the plant industries supply chain, agronomists, researchers and biosecurity personnel.

Project partners:

  • Hort Innovation – Rural R&D for Profit grant lead and program manager
  • AgriFutures Australia
  • Cotton Research & Development Corporation (CRDC)
  • Forest & Wood Products Australia Limited (FWPA)
  • Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC)
  • Nursery & Garden Industry Australia Limited (NGIA)
  • Sugar Research Australia Limited (SRA)
  • Wine Australia
  • Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
  • AgriBio – Department of Economic Development Jobs Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)
  • Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development, Western Australia (DPIRD)
  • Plant Health Australia (PHA)
  • South Australian Research & Development Institute (SARDI)
  • Plant & Food Research (PFR) [NZ]
  • Burkard Scientific Limited [UK]
  • Rothamsted Research Limited [UK]

MEDIA CONTACT: Shaun Lindhe, AUSVEG National Manager – Communications
Phone: 03 9882 0277, Mobile: 0405 977 789, Email: