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Soil tests will help control global vineyard pest

Australian scientists have developed the first soil test to allow early detection and control of the destructive grapevine pest, phylloxera.

The test analyses soil samples for phylloxera DNA, and is the result of more than a decade of research co-ordinated by the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre and wine industry organisations.

Phylloxera are among the world’s most destructive agricultural insect pests. The tiny sap-sucking insects infect and kill the roots of grapevines, and their rapid spread can inflict heavy crop losses. They were first detected in France in the 1860s, and are estimated to have wiped out almost 40 per cent of the country’s vineyards.

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