Biosecurity Queensland has called in air support in its war against the biggest threat to Australia’s $580 million banana industry. Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said drones were being used to check compliance activities on farms infested with the soil-borne fungus, Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4), in Far North Queensland.
“Banana plant regrowth is not permitted in a destruction zone on a farm infested with the disease, Furner said.
“Drones are particularly useful for inspecting large areas of land or locations that are difficult to access. It’s important that the number of people going onto farms with Panama TR4 is minimised to reduce any risk of spreading the disease. Using a drone allows us to quickly map an area and take detailed photos of the destruction zone. This eliminates the need for boots on the ground. If the drone detects any plant regrowth in a destruction zone, the grower is advised so they can remove the plants in accordance with strict biosecurity protocols.”
Furner said vigilance was the key to containing Panama TR4: “It is great that the disease is still confined to just four farms within close proximity of each other after four years. This is largely due to the combined efforts of government, industry and research bodies working together. I urge growers to maintain their efforts with on-farm biosecurity as it remains the best way to protect their farms from Panama TR4.”