Cash ploughed into research

01 Mar 2017 Weekly Times, Melbourne (General News) by Shannon Twomey INNOVATION FUND A TOMATO business using hyperspectral technology to identify plant diseases and another studying insectariums will receive a research grant from the State Governments Horticulture Innovation Fund. The $1 million fund, launched in 2015, will provide grants up to $50,000 to help five horticulture businesses develop new technologies and processes to boost production. The Australian Processing Tomato Research Council and Agribusiness Yarra Valley are among the recipients. The Shepparton-based tomato industry body will establish a hyperspectral library for early disease symptoms of processing tomatoes to distinguish between plant disease and other stresses or nutrient deficiency. Advances in spectral sensing have demonstrated the potential of hyperspectral sensing in identifying symptoms of plant diseases. Northern Victoria MP Jaclyn Symes said more than 3000 hectares of processing tomatoes were grown in Victoria and advances in hyperspectral sensing technology would ensure sustainability. The second recipient, Agribusiness Yarra Valley will, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, use its $50,000 to monitor the benefits of native vegetation insectariums in horticulture. South Australian research has shown native vegetation insectariums can increase the abundance and diversity of native beneficial insects. This project aims to replicate the South Australian study in four horticulture sectors: strawberries, viticulture, orchard and nursery. The research will assess whether insectarium corridors can help horticulturalists improve their integrated pest management strategies, which is particularly important in peri-urban areas where clean and green farming practices are highly desirable. Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the $1 million fund would support businesses to innovate and work collaboratively with researchers to test and adapt technologies. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.