Ryegrass toxicity control license awarded

30 Jan, 2010 01:00 AM
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David Kessell (left) and David Clegg examine laboratory cultures of the Twist Fungus that will be used to prepare the commercial inoculum.
David Kessell (left) and David Clegg examine laboratory cultures of the Twist Fungus that will be used to prepare the commercial inoculum.

THE Agriculture and Food Department has awarded the licence for the production and manufacture of Twist Fungus to Becker Underwood, an international developer of bio-agronomic and specialty products.

Twist Fungus is a biological control agent of the bacterium and nematode organisms that cause annual ryegrass toxicity (ARGT).

It was developed by the department with financial assistance from the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Australian Wool Innovation.

ARGT currently costs WA farmers an estimated $40 million each year in lost production and livestock deaths.

The department's development officer for ARGT David Kessell said Becker Underwood had a perfect record for producing Twist Fungus on behalf of the previous licence holder.

Under the new agreement, farmers will be able to order Twist Fungus from their local rural reseller by placing orders by March 15 to ensure delivery in June this year.

Order forms will be available from rural resellers, the department and Becker Underwood websites.

Mr Kessell said the department would continue to provide technical support and advice to growers on managing annual ryegrass toxicity.

"Farmers who noticed ryegrass with deformed seed heads or yellow slime last spring, or have observed livestock with signs of ARGT should be applying Twist Fungus this season," he said.

"Hay, pasture and ryegrass seed can be tested by the department for the presence of the bacteria that causes ARGT to determine whether the feed is safe to use.

"If growers have concerns they should get a sample kit from department offices and send it for testing.

"Farmers should also run their livestock for 200-300 metres to see if any exhibit the clinical signs of ARGT, details of which are available on the department's website."

The department has updated its ARGT resources to help farmers minimise the impact of the disease.

Mr Kessell said Twist Fungus was one of a number of solutions available to help manage the risk of ARGT.

These solutions were outlined in an ARGT Lifecycle and Management Options pinwheel developed by the department with support from Meat and Livestock Australia

Becker Underwood's WA sales manager David Clegg said Twist Fungus complemented the company's existing range of bio-agronomic products.

Mr Clegg said Becker Underwood aimed to use its expertise in biological formulations to improve the ease of application of Twist Fungus.

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