The South Australian Government has unveiled a new $500,000 x-ray irradiation machine for Port Augusta's National Sterile Insect Technology facility. It is now one of two machines which sterilise Queensland fruit flies in a controlled environment, so they can be released in areas where there have been outbreaks of the pest and prevent them from breeding.
Before being released, the fruit fly pupae are dyed pink so people in fruit fly-affected areas know which flies are sterile and which are wild. That way, the success of the release can be studied.
After outbreaks in Adelaide and the Riverlands last year, State Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said the machine would ensure the Government could keep up with future outbreaks: "We have to remember that we have had single-area outbreaks. Last year in Adelaide we had a number of detections and declared outbreak at Loxton in the Riverlands. If we were to have multiple outbreaks we would see there would be a shortfall in the number of flies."
Horticulture Innovation Australia organised funding for the facility when it was first established. General manager research, marketing and investments David Moore said the facility acted as a proof of concept for a larger commercial facility.
"Horticulture is worth about $12 billion annually to Australia so we need to prove that this pilot program can work and it does, and then we can pitch for it to be a commercial program in 2022-23," he said.