Innovation boosting Australia's biosecurity

4 June 2020
  • Australian Government is funding a range of innovative projects to strengthen the nation’s biosecurity system. 
  • Projects include DNA fingerprinting for imported dogs, virtual reality biosecurity training and drones for feral pig management.
  • The projects will be progressed in collaboration with innovators from the business sector, universities and research entities.

DNA fingerprinting for imported dogs, virtual reality training for officers and drones to manage feral pigs are among the innovative projects being funded by the Australian Government to bolster biosecurity.
 
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said these initiatives were part of the Government’s $25.2 million Biosecurity Innovation Program. 
 
“The biosecurity risks facing Australia is increasing. We need to incorporate innovative technologies and approaches to improve the way we work,” Minister Littleproud said 
 
“The latest round of funded projects include DNA fingerprinting for imported dogs, which will aim to improve how we verify compliance with our import conditions. 

“Another will look into the use of virtual reality to train our biosecurity officers and using remote sensing technologies, such as drones, to identify and quantify feral pig populations.

“Remote sensing could provide a valuable management tool for feral pigs and help in our fight to protect Australia from African swine fever and other exotic diseases carried by pigs.

“We are building on the success of the 3D x-rays by funding a project that will allow them to automatically detect seeds, which will be a world first for biosecurity. 

“Another project will aim to enhance our ability to detect pests on plant products at the border and to develop a deployable test for our number one plant pest, Xylella fastidiosa. 

“We will also be investigating what motivates people who threaten Australia’s biosecurity, which will help finds ways to influence behaviour change.  
 
 “These projects will be carried out with innovators from the business sector, universities and research entities to help meet future challenges in our biosecurity system.
 
“They demonstrate our commitment to working smarter and more efficiently, so we can continue protecting our industries, environment and trade from biosecurity threats.”
 
For more information on the Biosecurity Innovation Program, visit agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/research-innovation/program.

Fast Facts:

  • The Australian Government committed $25.2 million (over five years from 2018) for the Biosecurity Innovation Program.
  • The program has funded projects that involved collaboration with the business sector, universities and research entities, such as Bondi Labs, CSIRO, University of Melbourne, DXC.Technology and PwC.
  • Previously funded projects have included: 
    • a portable sensing device that will be able to automatically detect brown marmorated stink bug in or on cargo and remove the need for manual inspections
    • a mobile app that enables biosecurity officers to capture data from passengers' passports
    • 3D x-rays that automatically detect meat and fruit items at airports and mail centres 
    • innovative approaches to the selection, training and deployment of detector dogs
    • technology for enhanced traceability of plant products