Locusts to be tackled by geospatial tools in Australia

The Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) has expanded its suite of geospatial technologies to prevent and control potential outbreaks of locusts.

Australian plague locusts are native Australian grasshoppers – a single female can produce millions of offspring, which can destroy pastures and vegetation.

DAFWA, in conjunction with landholders, has completed its 2006 control program and an additional program on Western Australia’s south coast in early 2007, which was successful in controlling approximately 70 per cent of high density locust swarms.

Monitoring of locust activity will continue into spring 2007.

As part of the Australian plague locust control program, DAFWA used a customized suite of Intergraph mapping solutions to chart the high-risk areas and track the activities of department staff and spraying contractors. Additionally, field monitoring data noting the status of hatching locusts is being recorded in Intergraph’s online information management system.

This provides a real-time, comprehensive repository of property risk maps, and of properties surveyed and sprayed.

To further advance the goals of the campaign, mobile teams were dispatched.

Mobile mapping officers each carry a geospatial workstation, a complete set of digital orthophoto mosaics, and a copy of the property dataset.

Property maps for priority zones as well as sensitive, “do not spray” zones are produced on demand for the mobile surveying teams and spraying contractors.

According to the department’s locust incident manager, Simon Merewether, Intergraph’s information management system enabled staff to access detailed information during campaigns in real-time, driving efficiency and effectiveness in the pursuit to manage locust outbreaks.

Intergraph Australia managing director of security, government and infrastructure, Peter Russell-Smith, said the department faces a unique and broad set of challenges with their efforts to eradicate the plague locusts affecting the state.

“This type of integrated information management system pulls together every aspect of the entire campaign, keeping all personnel informed of the status of every facet as it happens,” Russell-Smith said.

“There is currently no equivalent type of information management system anywhere. We are confident that our technologies will continue to play a key role in the success of future plague locust campaigns.”

Intergraph Corporation provides spatial information management (SIM) software to organizations in more than 60 countries.

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