The Sentinel, a mobile surveillance unit offering optimal sampling of airborne fungal spores and insects.

Sentinel on duty soon

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Published: 
January 24, 2020

A national multi-agricultural industry surveillance initiative, iMapPESTS, is developing novel airborne surveillance and diagnostics technologies to speed up detection and reporting of important pests and diseases in cotton growing regions and beyond.

The iMapPESTS: Sentinel Surveillance for Agriculture program aims to rapidly monitor and report the presence of airborne pests and diseases for multiple agricultural sectors, including cotton, sugar, grains, viticulture, horticulture and forestry. 

The five-year program is being led by Horticulture Innovation, with funding from the Australian Government’s Rural R&D for Profit Program, along with 16 partner organisations including CRDC.

A key feature of the program is the Sentinel, a mobile surveillance unit that offers optimal sampling of airborne fungal spores and insects. The Sentinel is a specialised trailer equipped with several airborne samplers, a climate sensor, telemetry and an industrial computer to remotely control and monitor the unit, including automated robotics to change pots on the samplers according to the day or capture criteria.

A prototype Sentinel was recently launched at a field trial site for grains in Hart, South Australia. In February 2020 a second Sentinel will be commissioned during North Queensland’s wet season before making its way down through Queensland and Northern NSW, where it will target airborne pests of cotton such as green mirid and Helicoverpa.

The iMapPESTS research and industry network will work with growers and industry representatives to determine the best way to communicate the dynamic pest information data it gathers to end users, potentially via mobile devices. This includes which pests or diseases the Sentinel is detecting in an area at a particular time.

The iMapPESTS team will be hosting a show and tell of the Sentinel for cotton growers during autumn. Event details will be shared through CottonInfo and the next edition of Spotlight.

Cotton growers and their consultants are encouraged to visit the iMapPESTS website for more information (www.imappests.com.au) including where and when the sentinels will be in your region and how to be involved.

This article appears in the Summer 2019-20 edition of CRDC's Spotlight magazine.