Good news for the grain industry

A snail resting at the top of a stalk of grain (grain industry)

The introduction of several species of exotic snails into the Australian ecosystem has had a big effect on the grain growing industry since the 1920s.

These snails currently pose a big threat to the grain industry, as they attack the crops and also climb the plants during the spring and contaminate harvested grain. This results in substantial management costs, grain yield and value losses, opportunity costs, and market risks.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide have recently teamed up with the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and other research partners as part of a new $4.6 million national research project to provide Australian grain growers with new tools and management techniques to combat snails.

This new research project, which will span five years, aims to reduce this cost for grain growers as well as improve the quality of Australian grain.

Dr Kym Perry, the lead researcher on the project, says, “Mediterranean snails create substantial pre- and post-farm gate costs for affected growers and reputational risks for Australian grain that can affect international trade.”

The project is set to target four species of Mediterranean pest snail—the vineyard snail, the white Italian snail, the conical snail, and the small pointed snail. It will examine a range of physical, cultural, chemical, and biological tools to combat these pets.

GRDC manager (pests) Leigh Nelson says, “Growers need new tools as part of a systems approach for mollusc management.”

It is hoped that the project, which will run until 2026, will provide growers with more information, as well as strategies, around the snails. In turn, it is hoped that this will increase the quality of grain and wheat being produced in Australia.

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