The Khapra beetle is Australia’s number two National Priority Plant Pest and the number one plant priority pest for grains. It is not present in Australia, but it is a highly invasive pest that poses a major threat to Australia’s grain industry.
Khapra beetles destroy grain quality making it unfit for human or animal consumption. With this in mind, the Australian Federal Government introduced mandatory, off-shore treatments of a range of plant materials, from a range of high-risk Khapra Countries.
Initially, these treatments were limited to heat and methyl bromide. Methyl bromide is a known ozone-depleting substance, neurotoxic and carcinogenic. Methyl bromide treatment renders organic produce no longer organic, and heat treatments may not be practical or may damage produce.
In light of this, Australian Organic Limited (AOL) explored alternate treatment options that were not a risk to human health, environment or food quality. Following negotiation with the Government, five modified atmosphere treatments were approved for use.
Modified atmosphere is the alteration of the concentrations, temperatures and pressures of atmospheric gases (Carbon, Oxygen and Nitrogen) to kill storage agricultural pests such as the Khapra beetle. This is a non-toxic treatment and extremely effective in not just the treatment of Khapra Beetles, but also a wider variety of granary pests.
The five treatments allowed by DAWE for the commodities and the air in the treatment enclosure are:
- ≥95% CO2, at 20OC at 30 bar for a minimum duration of 3 consecutive hours (with additional time for pressure build-up and pressure release)
- ≥95% CO2, at 20OC at 20 bar for a minimum duration of 5 consecutive hours (with additional time for pressure build-up and pressure release)
- ≥ 80% CO2 concentration at ≥ 25OC at atmospheric pressure for a minimum duration of 28 consecutive days
- ≤1% O2 concentration at ≥ 25OC at atmospheric pressure for a minimum duration of 22 consecutive days
- ≤1% O2 concentration at ≥28OC at atmospheric pressure for a minimum duration of 12 consecutive days
Phase 3, and the implementation of these regulatory treatments commence on 30 September 2021. View more information here.
Australian Organic Limited is proud of this win for its members and also the wider export/import industry. AOL looks forward to more use and adaption of modified technologies to facilitate this type of treatment in the sector.