Top seed in biosecurity innovation

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Insect under low energy x-ray

Currently, seeds make up around 80% of all detections at our mail gateway facilities. Everyday hundreds of seed packets are intercepted by biosecurity officers.

Seeds come in varying shapes and are often small and low density. Current detection technologies have challenges in identifying seeds at our border.

This is being addressed with an innovative technical solution to reduce biosecurity risk.

The technology uses real-time video imagery and a computer algorithm to automatically identify seed packets and then uses a low-energy, high resolution x-ray to confirm the presence of seeds inside the packet.

Project director, Jessica Mitchell, explains that high energy x-ray cannot be absorbed by small items so will generally not detect the presence of seeds.

‘Unlike high energy x-ray, low energy x-ray is able to be absorbed by smaller items such as insects and seeds,’ says Ms. Mitchell.

’Low-energy beams are not as powerful and are able to show an incredibly defined image, perfect for detecting small hidden seeds.’

Funded by the Biosecurity Innovation Program, this world-first, proof of concept trial began in May 2020. It has already proven successful, demonstrating that computer algorithms and low energy x-ray is an effective way to identify and confirm the presence of seeds.

The project team is now preparing for phase 2. This involves operational trials and integrating this technology into current processes. Watch this space for future updates!

DAWE is working collaboratively in partnership with Rapiscan to develop this technology.

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