Taking a team approach to improve biosecurity

Aligning with New Zealand's Biosecurity 2025 strategy through the Agri-food Production Platform

The Agri-Food Production Platform has a goal of providing an integrated platform of farm biome genomics, biosecurity and decision-centric farm systems for sustainable livestock production. It is through this platform that AgResearch aligns with New Zealand’s Biosecurity 2025 strategy, enabling its scientists to work on minimising the risk of incursions, and develop technologies to detect and mitigate them.

Along with researchers from other Crown Research Institutes, AgResearch is a key member of the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) programme.  B3 has been set up to be a world-leading provider of biosecurity research, knowledge and tools that will have wide application in New Zealand and across the world.

B3 Better Border Biosecurity

Better Border Biosecurity (B3) is a multi-partner, cooperative science collaboration that researches ways to reduce the entry and establishment of new plant pests and diseases in New Zealand.

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Pest risk assessment for bio hazards

Given the reach of this wide-ranging programme, AgResearch is seeing the impact of its work in many areas. The Pest Risk Assessment project is strongly supported by DairyNZ, which is closely engaged in the work. Together the organisations are developing a comprehensive risk analysis approach that we hope will prove useful to other stakeholders. This work includes a joint evaluation of the potential spread and impact of hazards to ryegrass/clover pasture along with many other forage plants.

We have agreed on methods and results both for ranking insect and weed hazards to ryegrass / clover and for estimating their potential New Zealand distributions. This work is now being extended to biosecurity hazards of additional forage species. A method has also been proposed for estimating rates of pest spread in New Zealand, and work in this area has recently begun.

From New Zealand to the world

Our work in this broad biosecurity programme does not just support New Zealand’s border safety however, and part of the Sentinel Plants project has been focusing on China as an important trade partner and potential source of future exotic organisms. This work contributed to a review of biosecurity challenges and opportunities between New Zealand and China, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative – the work that is looking to develop growth along ancient trade routes as well as the more modern routes from China across the South Pacific.

One of the other most impactful outcomes of this programme to date is the collaboration with the Port of Tauranga Biosecurity Excellence Initiative, which measures and improves biosecurity awareness and support in the Tauranga community. This work saw our team partner with an education trust, House of Science, to develop a biosecurity education kit for primary and intermediate schools. With that kit now being rolled out, our social science team will be measuring the difference it makes to biosecurity awareness.

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