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Soilborne Diseases Symposium - Queenstown

The 4th Australasian Soilborne Diseases Symposium 3-6 September, Queenstown, New Zealand

Scientists from around the world will discuss new methods and tools for controlling some of the world’s most difficult-to-manage soilborne diseases at a symposium in Queenstown, New Zealand, next month.

Conference Organising Committee chairperson, Richard Falloon, says that take-all in wheat, clubroot affecting brassicas and potato powdery scab are just a few examples of diseases that continue to cause crop losses, particularly in temperate climates.

“The complexity of the soil environment makes control of soilborne diseases extremely difficult,” Dr Falloon says. “Throughout the world, soil diseases continue to disrupt crop production, often leading to huge financial losses and the complete abandonment of formerly productive tracts of land.”

He says the 4th Australasian Soilborne Diseases Symposium will feature guest speakers from Germany, Denmark, the United States and Australia as well as the leading soil pathologists from New Zealand.

“It is critical that soil pathologists working with different crops and pathogens come together to highlight common issues and problems in their research.

These interactions often lead to quick problem-solving.”

Among the guest speakers at the symposium will be Dr Ian Porter from the Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, who leads a UN committee overseeing reductions in the use of methyl bromide, an odourless, colourless gas used to treat both soil and transported produce but which is also an ozone-depleting substance. Dr Porter will discuss the effectiveness of substances replacing methyl bromide and the challenges ahead for scientists and industry as these are commercialised.

Another important speaker is Dr George Vandemark, from the United States Department of Agriculture, who will give a keynote address on Aphanomyces, a pathogen which severely affects peas and other legumes.

Dr Falloon says one of the more exciting area for discussion will be progress with DNA technologies.

“Scientists are developing quick and accurate pathogen-detection tools. For instance, there are now affordable soil tests which allow farmers to predict which paddocks will cause them problems. These tools are helping farmers to manage their land and avoid large financial losses caused by soilborne diseases.”

Along with soil health and pathogen detection, other areas of discussion will include biotechnology/genetic resistance, biocontrol and disease management.


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