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Completed project

Scanning technologies for horticulture packhouses (ST19022)

Key research provider: The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited
Publication date: Friday, September 11, 2020

What was it all about?

This short investment, which ran during 2020, investigated the potential of scanning technologies in horticulture packhouses to detect pests and disease organisms of relevance to market access. This knowledge will help to maximise market access opportunities by having technology in place to adequately demonstrate to export regulators that Australian produce is free of pest and diseases of market access concern.

The research team found that Australian horticulture commodity industries are well advanced in their knowledge and use of modern in-line scanning technologies. The level of adoption and use varies widely by commodity, largely determined by industry size and export value. Current technologies are mostly used for quality determinations (appearance, taste, defects) and are rarely used for pest and disease detection, although ‘at-risk’ produce will often be removed because symptomatic damage is detected.

Industry surveys showed there is an understanding that in-line scanning technologies are only part of a wider systems approach that is required for pest and disease management. It is appreciated that at-line inspections at packing are necessary and anything that improves detection accuracy is valuable, especially if it can also reduce costs in terms of mandated audits and labour.

Statistical modelling indicated that even moderately accurate non-destructive scanning of additional samples, supplementary to those required for destructive at-line inspections, could greatly improve accuracy and confidence in the grading and sorting results. Grading companies are investing in new technologies, particularly in software and improved detection algorithms. Hardware advances are more challenging, especially for methods that can more deeply and accurately penetrate samples to reveal internally hidden pests and diseases.

The research team found that further assessment of scanning technologies needs to be within the context of each commodity and its related biosecurity challenges, and when examining ways to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the at-line inspections undertaken at packing.


978 0 7341 4654 0

Funding statement:
This project was funded through Hort Innovation using levies from multiple industries and contributions from the Australian Government.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2021. The Final Research Report (in part or as a whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation, except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).