The Seed - Biosecurity Innovation Hub

Welcome to The Seed, our biosecurity innovation hub where you can learn more about exciting developments in the biosecurity space.

This initiative was an outcome of the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018.

Each issue will feature stories about exciting initiatives and profiles of people who are making great strides in innovation.

You can also plant your ideas in our ideas patch and subscribe so you don’t miss out on the latest news.

Welcome to The Seed, our biosecurity innovation hub where you can learn more about exciting developments in the biosecurity space.

This initiative was an outcome of the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018.

Each issue will feature stories about exciting initiatives and profiles of people who are making great strides in innovation.

You can also plant your ideas in our ideas patch and subscribe so you don’t miss out on the latest news.

  • New Tricks: New Training for Biosecurity Detector Dogs

    10 months ago
    Kyndall christie   asha   vehicle   copy

    Image: Kyndall Christie & Asha training to screen cars for BMSB

    Article written by Compliance Division

    The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has been working with researchers at the University of New England to retrain biosecurity detector dogs to detect Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, an exotic insect that can arrive in Australia on cargo and containers.

    Jessica Mitchell, Director, Biosecurity Detector Dog Program, said that with the growing threat of exotic plant pests we are looking to modernise our existing detector dog capabilities.

    ‘Biosecurity detector dogs have been helping protect Australia from pests and diseases...

    Image: Kyndall Christie & Asha training to screen cars for BMSB

    Article written by Compliance Division

    The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has been working with researchers at the University of New England to retrain biosecurity detector dogs to detect Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, an exotic insect that can arrive in Australia on cargo and containers.

    Jessica Mitchell, Director, Biosecurity Detector Dog Program, said that with the growing threat of exotic plant pests we are looking to modernise our existing detector dog capabilities.

    ‘Biosecurity detector dogs have been helping protect Australia from pests and diseases since 1992, but they only screen for biosecurity risks in airline traveller and mail pathways,’ said Ms Mitchell.

    ‘The success of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) research means we can deploy this existing detection capability, our detector dogs, to better protect Australia from biosecurity threats.’

    ‘We’re trialling detector dog screening for incoming sea cargo in Brisbane, a first for biosecurity innovation in Australia.’

    BMSB could severely impact our agricultural industries. Juveniles and adults feed on, and can severely damage, fruit and vegetable crops rendering them unsellable or reducing production yields. Adult BMSB can also be a nuisance, entering vehicles, homes and factories for shelter over winter.

    The next step in this research is to find chemical similarities between groups of risk material to make training dogs more effective.

    ‘The dogs naturally generalise some scents. We can train a dog to respond to the scent of an apple and, without ever being exposed to a banana, most dogs will respond to the scent of banana,’ said Ms Mitchell.

    ‘By specifically identifying the chemical compounds the dogs detect in risk material we can train novice dogs faster, and allow rapid response training for our existing fleet to meet seasonal or emerging risk materials or pests.’

    Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks.

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  • Tackling Queensland Fruit Fly with adaptive area wide management

    10 months ago
    Queensland fruit fly   transparent3

    Image: Queensland Fruit Fly. Photo Credit: Andrew Jessup

    Article Contributed by Hort Innovation

    Growers and communities have been exploring new ways to manage Queensland Fruit Fly, or Qfly, thanks to Hort Innovation’s Adaptive Area Wide Management Project.

    Adaptive Area Wide Management (AWM) is used to manage mobile pests around the world. It is a coordinated approach to reduce pest habitats within a defined area.

    Hort Innovation Research and Development Manager, Penny Measham, said exploring new and collaborative ways to manage biosecurity such as AWM, was key to keeping Australian farms productive, efficient and profitable.

    “Qfly is a major pest...

    Image: Queensland Fruit Fly. Photo Credit: Andrew Jessup

    Article Contributed by Hort Innovation

    Growers and communities have been exploring new ways to manage Queensland Fruit Fly, or Qfly, thanks to Hort Innovation’s Adaptive Area Wide Management Project.

    Adaptive Area Wide Management (AWM) is used to manage mobile pests around the world. It is a coordinated approach to reduce pest habitats within a defined area.

    Hort Innovation Research and Development Manager, Penny Measham, said exploring new and collaborative ways to manage biosecurity such as AWM, was key to keeping Australian farms productive, efficient and profitable.

    “Qfly is a major pest for Australian horticultural crops,” she said.

    “It causes millions of dollars worth of damage each year and poses a major barrier to market access for Australian products. Urban areas pose a significant challenge because they are a breeding ground for flies throughout the year.”

    “Communication and community education have been critical to managing Qfly. The AWM guidelines are helping growers and communities understand the basics of AWM. It’s great to see this initiative making a real difference,” Ms Measham said.

    The AWM guidelines developed from the project help growers and communities to understand:

    • the basics of AWM

    • how to get started in implementing AWM for the management of Qfly

    • the opportunities, such as the SITplus program, to implement Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) once AWM has been successfully applied.

    The AWM guidelines were developed in consultation with stakeholders impacted by Qfly and are now being used to bolster AWM efforts in a number of regions. The Goulburn Valley community is preparing for sterile fly releases this year and table grape growers in Sunraysia are making good use of the guidelines to build a co-ordinated approach to fight fruit fly.

    The project, which began in 2015, is funded by the Australian Government’s Rural R&D for Profit program and is supported by state and territory governments, CSIRO and Wine Australia.

    Find out more about the Rural R&D for Profit Program.

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  • Recognition for excellence in risk innovation

    12 months ago
    Rrra award image

    Image: L-R: Nianjun Liu, Sam Wells, Paul Pheloung, Rosemary Huxtable, Daryl Quinlivan and Callum Moggach at the Comcover award ceremony.

    Article written by RRRA team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Imagine we could forecast the effect of a new biosecurity policy on Australian agriculture, its people and environment, before any changes are made.

    Our department can do just that with the Risk Return Resource Allocation model (RRRA). The RRRA is a mathematical model of Australia’s biosecurity system that calculates the efficiency of our measures to stop pests, diseases and weeds from entering and spreading.

    In October, the RRRA model was recognised at...

    Image: L-R: Nianjun Liu, Sam Wells, Paul Pheloung, Rosemary Huxtable, Daryl Quinlivan and Callum Moggach at the Comcover award ceremony.

    Article written by RRRA team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Imagine we could forecast the effect of a new biosecurity policy on Australian agriculture, its people and environment, before any changes are made.

    Our department can do just that with the Risk Return Resource Allocation model (RRRA). The RRRA is a mathematical model of Australia’s biosecurity system that calculates the efficiency of our measures to stop pests, diseases and weeds from entering and spreading.

    In October, the RRRA model was recognised at the 2018 Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management when it was awarded a High Commendation in the Risk Initiative category.

    Not only does the model forecast how changes in trade and travel patterns can affect Australia’s exposure to biosecurity risk, it can also calculate how best to invest in protecting our multi-billion dollar agriculture industries, our environment and our community.

    Matthew Koval, First Assistant Secretary for Biosecurity Policy and Implementation said the RRRA model was one of a kind, and it’s already being put to use in assessing and modifying the measures we’ve put in place to protect our unique way of life.

    ‘We’ve developed a world first tool that calculates the potential risks of imports and what they could end up costing Australia’s $32 billion agricultural export industries,’ Mr Koval said.

    ‘The model has already demonstrated its value in reducing Australia’s exposure to biosecurity risk through its flexible, innovative approach to analysing complex data.’

    The RRRA is a critical part of the department’s decision-making processes and alongside our other Research and Innovation projects, plays an important part in managing Australia’s biosecurity system.

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  • What does bitcoin have to do with barley?

    12 months ago
    What does bitcoin have to do with barley

    Image: Farmers and agribusinesses can access the latest technologies to boost their growth

    Article contributed by AgriDigital

    Apparently, a lot. October marked the 10th anniversary of the release of bitcoin, a digital currency that has made global headlines. But what’s important about bitcoin is actually the base technology, blockchain. Blockchain offers a new way of storing data, allowing businesses to share data and transfer assets in an encrypted and highly secure way. From Walmart, to CBA, Maersk and the United Nations blockchain is being used to solve the challenges of traceability,...

    Image: Farmers and agribusinesses can access the latest technologies to boost their growth

    Article contributed by AgriDigital

    Apparently, a lot. October marked the 10th anniversary of the release of bitcoin, a digital currency that has made global headlines. But what’s important about bitcoin is actually the base technology, blockchain. Blockchain offers a new way of storing data, allowing businesses to share data and transfer assets in an encrypted and highly secure way. From Walmart, to CBA, Maersk and the United Nations blockchain is being used to solve the challenges of traceability, payment security and access to finance.

    AgriDigital is a Sydney based agtech company. They executed the world’s first settlement of a physical commodity using blockchain technology in 2016, and have since pioneered the use of blockchain in agriculture globally, working with the likes of CBH Group, Rabobank and Fletcher International Exports. Bridie Ohlsson, AgriDigital’s blockchain lead, explains the company philosophy. “At AgriDigital we work hard to make agriculture simple, easy and secure. We know our customers are the best at doing what they do, and we are giving them the digital tools they need to grow their businesses.”

    The challenge with blockchain is making it accessible. “Blockchain doesn’t have a beautiful interface. It’s interacted with through software platforms, devices and sensors. And while there’s enormous opportunity to use it across agri-supply chains, the technology ecosystem can be difficult to navigate,” Bridie acknowledges. “Our founders have been farming and in agribusiness for a combined 80 years. We understand agriculture and we are making blockchain accessible for agri-supply chains.” AgriDigital’s blockchain solution, Geora, launches in market in 2019.

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  • 3D X-ray screening for biosecurity risk

    about 1 year ago
    Rapiscan unit

    Image: The Rapiscan RTT®110

    Article written by Compliance Division

    Next time you arrive at Melbourne International Terminal, you may notice something different about how your bags are scanned.

    The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is conducting a 12 month trial of a 3D X-ray unit, the Rapiscan RTT®110, to screen passenger, air cargo and mail pathways for biosecurity risk items at Melbourne Airport.

    Jessica Mitchell, project director, explained that the RTT®110 unit produces three dimensional scans of bags which will allow a more thorough view of items. This will help biosecurity officers detect...

    Image: The Rapiscan RTT®110

    Article written by Compliance Division

    Next time you arrive at Melbourne International Terminal, you may notice something different about how your bags are scanned.

    The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is conducting a 12 month trial of a 3D X-ray unit, the Rapiscan RTT®110, to screen passenger, air cargo and mail pathways for biosecurity risk items at Melbourne Airport.

    Jessica Mitchell, project director, explained that the RTT®110 unit produces three dimensional scans of bags which will allow a more thorough view of items. This will help biosecurity officers detect undeclared or concealed biosecurity risk items.

    ‘This is the first time, internationally, that this technology has been used for screening biosecurity risk items. Currently the RTT®110 is primarily used for airport security screening.’

    ’The unit also has the capability to use algorithms to auto-detect risk items,’ Jessica said.

    New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries is planning a similar 12 month trial of an identical Rapiscan RTT®110 unit at Auckland Airport. The department will be working closely with Biosecurity New Zealand throughout this trial.

    ‘The X-ray images from Melbourne and Auckland will be combined to create an image library that is used to create the algorithm. This approach is a world first collaboration for biosecurity,’ Jessica said.

    ‘Biosecurity NZ and the department have recently signed the Trans-Tasman Biosecurity Risk Detection Technology Cooperation. The agreement is a commitment to work closely together to explore emerging technologies.’

    This trial is funded by the Modern Seamless Border Clearance measure announced in the 2018-19 Budget.

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  • Biosecurity – Towards 2025 and Beyond

    over 1 year ago
    Image cale lee

    Image: Lee Cale

    Article contributed by Lee Cale, Assistant Secretary Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Australia has a strong biosecurity system that protects our agricultural industries, environment and economy from the threat of exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

    However, our biosecurity system is facing increasing challenges.

    The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Transport Security Outlook to 2025 report tells us that the number of passengers, shipping and containerised cargo arrivals is set to significantly increase (double) by 2025.

    Other factors such as globalisation, complexity of international supply chains and...

    Image: Lee Cale

    Article contributed by Lee Cale, Assistant Secretary Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Australia has a strong biosecurity system that protects our agricultural industries, environment and economy from the threat of exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

    However, our biosecurity system is facing increasing challenges.

    The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Transport Security Outlook to 2025 report tells us that the number of passengers, shipping and containerised cargo arrivals is set to significantly increase (double) by 2025.

    Other factors such as globalisation, complexity of international supply chains and other changes to our operating environment are making our management of biosecurity risks more challenging.

    Change to the way we undertake our work is therefore needed if our biosecurity system is to keep pace and remain sustainable into the future. It is more important than ever that we innovate our management of biosecurity risk – incorporating innovative technologies and approaches to help us work smarter, not just harder.

    And much work is already underway as part of our innovation agenda that will help address these challenges.

    The stories in The Seed showcase some of the initiatives being pursued as part of our biosecurity innovation agenda, to support our biosecurity system to work smarter into the future. These are being progressed across our biosecurity divisions, and in some cases with our colleagues in the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. The Seed is a place to share ideas and grow our biosecurity innovation community – and it underscores that collaboration is key to our future success.

    So, please read, enjoy, comment and contribute your ideas for future editions.

    Cheers,

    Lee

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  • Cross pollinating ideas between Australia and New Zealand

    over 1 year ago
    Image cross pollinating ideas between australia and new zealand

    Image: L-R: Kyle Langford, Roger Smith, Lee Cale, Sam Newton, Lyn O’Connell, Matt Koval, Chris Cairns after the keynote sessions at the Biosecurity Innovation Exchange.

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    It was innovative thinking that united neighbouring nations at the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018. Jointly convened with the New Zealand and Australian Governments, the day brought together two biosecurity innovation ecosystems. The two countries started the process of cross pollinating ideas to meet the evolving global biosecurity environment.

    The first of its kind, the Exchange focused on innovative technology from the outset with the keynote...

    Image: L-R: Kyle Langford, Roger Smith, Lee Cale, Sam Newton, Lyn O’Connell, Matt Koval, Chris Cairns after the keynote sessions at the Biosecurity Innovation Exchange.

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    It was innovative thinking that united neighbouring nations at the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018. Jointly convened with the New Zealand and Australian Governments, the day brought together two biosecurity innovation ecosystems. The two countries started the process of cross pollinating ideas to meet the evolving global biosecurity environment.

    The first of its kind, the Exchange focused on innovative technology from the outset with the keynote sessions livestreamed to the department’s YouTube channel. Staying on theme, special guests Kyle Langford and Sam Newton from the Oracle Team USA America’s Cup Sailing team provided an inspiring example of innovation, setting the tone for the day.

    ‘Through innovation, science and research we can continue to be world leaders in biosecurity – and the best way for us to harness these opportunities is to collaborate with other countries who share our innovative biosecurity vision,’Lyn O’Connell, Deputy Secretary, said in her opening remarks.

    Australia and New Zealand are both island nations. This means our environment and challenges are similar. It makes sense to share knowledge and support each other to identify opportunities, leading the future of biosecurity. With technology advancing more in the last thirty years than it did in the previous two thousand, the topics discussed were truly thought provoking.

    The Exchange established key themes for immediate investigation:

    • gamification and citizen science

    • Next Generation Sequencing

    • bionic technologies and sensors.

    We’ve since held cross divisional workshops, along with our biosecurity colleagues from state and territory governments and New Zealand, on initiatives under gamification, citizen science and Next Generation Sequencing, and plan to facilitate further workshops later this calendar year. These initiatives are just some of the ways we are driving an innovation agenda to support the biosecurity system to work smarter into the future.

    It is anticipated that New Zealand will host the next Exchange in 2019 where we will continue to explore innovative technologies and approaches to support biosecurity.

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  • Levelling up – gamification approach to improve biosecurity engagement

    over 1 year ago

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Mario Kart captured the hearts and minds of a generation. Candy Crush was an addiction, and Pokémon GO caused several frenzied stampedes. People love games. So how can we use them to improve engagement with biosecurity?

    At the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018, the Australian and New Zealand governments committed to holding a series of innovation workshops to define and progress initiatives based on four key themes, including gamification and citizen science.

    Gamification harnesses the power of games to increase user engagement with...

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Mario Kart captured the hearts and minds of a generation. Candy Crush was an addiction, and Pokémon GO caused several frenzied stampedes. People love games. So how can we use them to improve engagement with biosecurity?

    At the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018, the Australian and New Zealand governments committed to holding a series of innovation workshops to define and progress initiatives based on four key themes, including gamification and citizen science.

    Gamification harnesses the power of games to increase user engagement with real world topics, such as biosecurity. As well as engaging an audience, gamification can be used to encourage the community to collect useful biosecurity data and information at the same time – this is called citizen science.

    In May and June 2018, the department held two workshops focussed on gamification and citizen science. The workshops explored the use of games to:

    • increase public awareness and engagement with biosecurity and encourage identification and reporting of biosecurity threats

    • support staff learning about the biosecurity system and the various roles and responsibilities.

    We’ll keep you updated as these gamification and citizen science initiatives progress.

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  • Investing in the future of Australia’s biosecurity system

    over 1 year ago
    Image investing in the future of australia%e2%80%99s biosecurity system v0.2

    Image: Biosecurity innovation – aerial drone and a scientist in a lab

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    The Australian Government is investing in new cutting edge technologies and approaches to enhance Australia’s Biosecurity System, protecting Australia into the future. Through a new $25.2 million Biosecurity Innovation Program the department’s innovation teams will investigate the benefits of emerging technologies to meet the challenges of an ever changing global environment.

    ‘This investment is part of the Australian Government’s comprehensive plan to keep Australia's industries and environment safe from invading biosecurity...

    Image: Biosecurity innovation – aerial drone and a scientist in a lab

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    The Australian Government is investing in new cutting edge technologies and approaches to enhance Australia’s Biosecurity System, protecting Australia into the future. Through a new $25.2 million Biosecurity Innovation Program the department’s innovation teams will investigate the benefits of emerging technologies to meet the challenges of an ever changing global environment.

    ‘This investment is part of the Australian Government’s comprehensive plan to keep Australia's industries and environment safe from invading biosecurity threats,’ Minister Littleproud said.

    The Program aims to benefit the agriculture sector, the environment, tourism, the Australian economy and way of life by helping to ensure Australia remains free from exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

    With the number of passengers, shipping and containerised cargo arrivals set to significantly increase (double) by 2025, investment in innovation and emerging technologies and approaches is required to help ensure the national biosecurity system can meet the challenges of an ever changing global environment.

    The 2017 report Priorities for Australia’s biosecurity system: An independent review of the capacity of the national biosecurity system and its underpinning intergovernmental agreement recommended the establishment of a National Biosecurity Innovation Program and the exploration of emerging technologies and approaches. These technologies could include such things as computer learning, robotics, Next Generation Sequencing, new biological controls and alternative management approaches to border interventions, to improve efficiency and effectiveness of biosecurity activities. The department will administer the program with aim to secure the future of Australia’s Biosecurity System.

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  • Next Generation Sequencing on the agenda at innovation workshop

    over 1 year ago
    Image next generation sequencing on the agenda at innovation workshop

    Image: Tests being carried out in the PIC@PEQ lab

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Imagine if years of virus testing on imported plants could be reduced to just one rapid test. This could soon be a reality, thanks to an innovative Plant Innovation Centre at Post Entry Quarantine (PIC@PEQ) project. The project is examining the potential of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to detect plant viruses.

    At the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018, the Australian and New Zealand governments committed to holding a series of innovation workshops to define...

    Image: Tests being carried out in the PIC@PEQ lab

    Article written by Biosecurity Innovation team, Biosecurity Implementation branch

    Imagine if years of virus testing on imported plants could be reduced to just one rapid test. This could soon be a reality, thanks to an innovative Plant Innovation Centre at Post Entry Quarantine (PIC@PEQ) project. The project is examining the potential of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to detect plant viruses.

    At the inaugural Biosecurity Innovation Exchange 2018, the Australian and New Zealand governments committed to holding a series of innovation workshops to define and progress initiatives based on four key themes, including NGS.

    NGS uses genetic material to quickly screen a plant sample for viruses. It offers the potential to use a single diagnostic test to quickly, reliably and cost effectively detect multiple plant viruses, rather than using multiple tests. This technology could help importers access new plants faster and more cheaply, while maintaining rigorous biosecurity risk controls.

    On 5 July 2018, PIC@PEQ Director Mark Whattam led a workshop in Canberra to progress the NGS initiative. At the workshop, department experts explored NGS, what the innovation offers the department and clients from both a plant and animal biosecurity perspective, and discussed a way forward and the potential to adopt the technology. Next, a ‘roadmap’ will be developed showing how issues raised in the workshop will be addressed, and the research investment that may be needed to continue the project. The hope is to phase NGS testing in to Post Entry Quarantine processes over time, while research to further develop NGS continues.

    We’ll keep you updated as work to develop NGS technology progresses.

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