An estimated 40 per cent of global food crops are lost every year due to plant pests and disease, equating to around US$220 billion annually and invasive insects US$70 billion, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
For growers, correct pest diagnosis can play a pivotal role in whether a crop thrives or struggles in the nursery. An incorrect diagnosis can be a costly reminder that disease symptoms are not always, as they seem.
The good news is there are services that can shed light on plant diseases and insect pests, especially those with unusual or rare symptoms, such as Grow Help Australia, which is offered through the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF).
Grow Help is a valuable and cost-effective resource for Australian production nurseries, and aims to improve the quality and productivity of crops across a wide range of production systems.
Growers send in samples of plants or parts of plants, which enables Grow Help to use a range of techniques to identify and diagnose pests and pathogens, as well as provide recommendations to eliminate the plant pest.