The ‘Holy Grail’ of fruit fly traps has been launched , dramatically boosting Australia’s potential for agricultural production in what is already a multibillion dollar industry.
Griffith University and agricultural product company Agnova Technologies collaborated to produce Fruition, the nation’s first non-toxic response to fruit flies.
Griffith’s Professor Dick Drew, who has dedicated his career to fruit fly research, developed the trap over 30 years of investigation.
Brought to market by AgNova Technologies, the trap attracts and catches female fruit flies before they lay eggs in fruit and offers the potential for a brighter future for Australia’s $4.8 billion horticulture industry.
There are more than 50 major pest fruit fly species known and their worldwide economic impact on crop production, international trade and quarantine services is huge.
Professor Drew, of Griffith’s International Centre for the Management of Pest Fruit Flies (ICMPFF), says the fruit fly trap and lure is unique because it contains a synthetic attractant for the first time and is being mass produced for commercial use.
Fruition has recorded high levels of success in field trials, both in terms of the number of fruit flies being attracted and crop yield improvements. The product was launched this week at Griffith University’s Nathan Campus.
Eco-friendly and cost-effective
“Other traps, primarily attracting male flies, already exist and have been used in horticulture for years. But the environmentally-conscious, commercially-effective fruit fly trap that everyone dreams about has proven elusive until now,” he says.
Professor Drew says the new trap and lure cut crop losses in a Gatton mango orchard to commercially acceptable levels during trials, and even more significant results have been achieved at a nearby feijoa fruit orchard when the trap and lure were combined with an effective protein bait treatment.
Ninety per cent of the fruit flies attracted by the trap and lure are females and 90 per cent of those are mature egg-bearing fruit flies, which are the main threat.
Griffith has signed an exclusive license agreement with AgNova Technologies Pty Ltd following five years of work between the partners on the project.
Professor Drew says the company’s involvement was vital to the project’s underwriting and success.
“It is rare for companies to want to come in and give their support to turning research outcomes into commercial products,” he says.
Andrew Glover, business manager with AgNova Technologies, says the company believes Fruition will have a real impact on the fruit fly problem and help growers produce better, more marketable fruit.
“Growers are already using monitoring traps and protein baits for immature and developing flies, but there has been nothing available to protect fruit from egg-laying females seeking fruit to lay their eggs until Fruition,” he says.
Knowledge in fruit fly behaviour
Mr Glover says the work by Griffith University is world class, backed by a strong background of knowledge in fruit fly behaviour in orchards.
The Queensland fruit fly, known as Bactrocera tryoni and found across Australia’s mainland, is also seen as the greatest biosecurity hazard stopping Australian farmers accessing major international markets like China.
The agreement between the two organisations was shaped by Griffith Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation office, which facilitates a greater connection between business-led innovation and leading research, and has been doing so for several years.
Professor Drew’s ICMPFF team at Griffith University is the only fruit fly research group worldwide with a knowledge of the species, their geographic distributions and host plant records, based on more than 40 years of experience in fruit fly research, ecology and field biology.