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Ongoing project

PestREADI: Regionally-enabled agroecological decision (BY22003)

Key research provider: CSIRO

What is it all about?

The investment is developing and implementing pest management systems that can respond to a range of current, establishing, and future interrelated pest challenges at both crop and landscape levels within an increasingly chemically-limited future.

The project will build a prototype digitally-augmented landscape-level plant protection program to improve agri-pest preparedness and resilience for the Australian horticultural industry, including the incorporation of indigenous land practices with those of modern agriculture. The Northern Rivers (Bundjalung country) of New South Wales has been selected as the initial case-study region in partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The program will engage with local First Nations people who have managed Australian landscapes at that level for millennia, applying learnings to agricultural systems and to work with Australian horticulture industries to develop resilience against established and emerging agri-pest challenges. 

Key outcomes from this project will include:

  • State governments have a digital tool that enables targeted interventions and facilitated area-wide management (AWM) across regions/industries in Horticulture.
  • Consultants and growers have access to digital tools and knowledge to improve their integrated agri-pest management practices and are better able to cooperate and innovate in these strategies.
  • The economic and socio-political costs of agri-pest management to growers are decreased.
  • Improved alignment of on-farm agri-pest management with healthy ecosystem processes.
  • Effectiveness of agri-pest management across industries within a region is increased through coordinated action at the landscape scale (AWM).

The project is structured into four areas:

  1. Socio-economic analysis of gaps in pest risk ‘preparedness’, determination of the regional pathways and impacts of a ‘chemically limited future’, with area-wide management recommendations. Here, the team will review and assess the plant protection research, development and extension resources and capabilities within the selected study region identifying potential opportunities and gaps.  The research team will develop a risk matrix for a range of pests and crops indicating industry preparedness and potential gaps in management, extension and adoption. A gap analysis in knowledge and management approaches for exotic and endemic pests will also be undertaken including the potential need for additional plant protection measures.

  2. Social network structure mapping and modelling to determine opportunities for engagement in area-wide management and gaps that may pose biosecurity risks. Influential and hard to reach actors and their relationships to industry and government will be identified and mapped, and network pathways to pursue landscape-scale initiatives highlighted and modelled.  This activity will be important to underpin the development of a digital model that integrates information on a landscape level to derive innovation in decision-making and management of key pests. It will also enable the development of integrated management practices that consider overall pest management on the landscape level and how these can perform together on endemic and exotic pest incursions.

  3. Development of a plant protection information digital platform for pest risk. The team will map endemic and exotic pests and their impact on production system on a landscape scale for the case study region, and develop an electronic platform that integrates plant protection information at a landscape level. This will incorporate existing knowledge on the management of the wider landscape and the role of non-crop habitat in pest outbreaks, and as a source of biocontrol. 

  4. Incorporate indigenous knowledge and objectives into the risk matrix and digital platform. Building on existing research and relationships within the case study region, the project team will co-develop a set of research objectives that align with the broader project goals to incorporate indigenous perspectives into the risk matrix and digital platform as well as ensure the outcomes of this project will benefit indigenous communities. This co-design will occur during the first year of the project. The project team will expand this into a full component of the project following this initial consultation and scoping period.  

A steering committee will be established to facilitate stakeholder engagement on a regular basis to maximise the project’s impact not only in the case study region but in providing tools that can be extended easily into other regions across Australia.  The research team will also establish a regional Community of Practice (CoP) as well as a broader CoP involving other regions and industries to facilitate engagement and extension of the research in the innovation system.