A USQ researcher has used a fungus to stop a destructive insect from destroying Papua New Guinea’s most important food crop - sweet potato.
The biocontrol trial/experiment has the potential to reduce chemical use and eliminate specific pest problems in a variety of Australian horticulture crops.
Research Fellow with the Centre for Crop Health, Dr Bree Wilson, is using a basic yet effective method to grow and distribute Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana fungus into the soil so it can attack and kill a weevil that makes sweet potato inedible.
"One little nibble from this weevil causes the plant to create a compound that makes the sweet potato root unpalatable to us"
“In more developed countries producers would put chemical through their irrigation system for the entire cropping season, so in PNG where all farmers are small scale and chemicals aren’t easy to use or access and education on correct and safe usage through the entire supply chain is a concern - it is a massive problem,” she said.