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The Great War On Weevil Wins Kudos

29 September 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Great War On Weevil Wins Kudos

A remarkable discovery put the Ruakura Clover Root Weevil Biocontrol team ahead of the competition, as they took out the Hamilton City Council Agricultural Science Award at last week’s Kudos Awards in Hamilton.

The Ruakura Clover Root Weevil Biocontrol team of AgResearch includes Dr Pip Gerard, Derrick Wilson and Tina Eden. Together they have led the charge against one of our worst clover pests, clover root weevil, by conducting ecological studies, and investigating economic impacts and on-farm management solutions.
With little known about the pest, which had spread through the North Island and large areas of the South Island, and a potential annual direct cost estimated at $300 million, Dr Gerard and her team worked extensively to discover an effective biocontrol agent.

The biocontrol agent came in the form of the Irish wasp, a tiny parasitoid that attacks the adult weevils and makes the females sterile. The team carried out widespread releases across the North Island.

It is rare that a scientist can directly place in a farmer’s hand a research-driven solution to a significant problem, and in response to high farmer demand, the team distributed a high profile shot gun approach, delivering information about wasp and pasture management and low numbers of wasps all over the North Island.

The Irish wasp has established successfully and is spreading rapidly. “The results we’ve had in this winter show the wasp is doing amazingly well almost everywhere, and is spreading so rapidly no further releases are needed” comments Dr Gerard.

The Hamilton City Council Agricultural Science Award recognises a major, recent contribution to a novel tool, process or technology that will have a positive impact on agricultural profitability or agricultural sustainability in the Waikato.

The Kudos Awards celebrated Waikato’s finest scientists and science educators at an Awards presentation and dinner evening held on the 23rd of September at Southwell Auditorium, Hamilton. The Kudos Awards recognise the region’s most innovative science research and discoveries over six categories, including agricultural, environmental, medical, science educator, emerging scientist and lifetime achievement.

The winner’s cash prizes are used to further develop science and research throughout Hamilton and the Waikato region, and are sponsored by; Hamilton City Council, University of Waikato, Wintec, WEL Networks, Waikato District Health Board, Waikato Times, King Street Advertising, and Orbit Calder & Lawson. Other supporters include Plant and Food Research, McFarlane Engels & Associates, and AWIS (Association of Women in Science).

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