The VSIDC are currently funding research by VSICA Research to develop tests for measuring fumigants in soil so that growers know when it is safe to plant their crops. Researchers are testing two different technologies (photoionisation detectors and colorimetric tubes) that instantaneously detect fumigants in soil. The use of these technologies in field surveys has already prevented growers from planting into soil containing fumigant residues at 15 sites. The project has established a field trial in the industry that is evaluating the tolerance of different strawberry varieties to the presence of fumigant residues in soil. Preliminary results showed strong correlations between the concentration of fumigants in soil and growth inhibition in lettuce as an indicator plant. If results continue to show success it is anticipated the technologies will be developed as a product or service to growers in Victoria.
High quality runners, free of disease, are key to a successful final product. Underpinning the success and viability of the Australian strawberry industry is a certification and inspection program that supports production of high-quality high-health runners. With increasing climatic variation, as well as the phasing out of methyl bromide for fumigation, the Australian strawberry industry may see the emergence of new serious pathogens. Starting with certified planting stock will help the strawberry industry to limit the impact of emerging and re-emerging pests and disease.