06 Feb 2019

Phytopathology testing facility with local expertise

A dedicated laboratory and phytopathology scientist based at Rijk Zwaan Australia’s head office addresses the need for speed and local expertise in plant pest and disease management.

Dr Jurgen Paar, who holds a PhD in population genetics, works in Daylesford, Victoria, and collaborates with the vegetable seed company’s production, R&D and sales departments to identify pests and diseases in plants and advise on countermeasures.

This unique and recently established position also assists Rijk Zwaan’s Technical Sales Representatives to provide their customers with timely information about issues in their crops.

“Access to local state-of-the-art equipment means phytopathology is an added service for Rijk Zwaan customers,” Jurgen explains.

Jurgen receives and tests plant samples from growing regions all over Australia.

“It’s important samples arrive in a suitable condition to be tested. Time is critical. If you have the right climate conditions, some pests and diseases can spread really fast and have a serious impact on your crop.”

Working with the seed production and R&D departments at Rijk Zwaan, Jurgen is also designing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs and farm hygiene procedures, and trials for varieties that offer disease resistance.

Rijk Zwaan is a key contributor to the knowledge bank on managing local pests and diseases, and Jurgen is building close relationships with key players such as the Department of Primary Industries to further information sharing.

“One part of my role is to create networks with scientists and groups here in Australia, so we can work together on different projects or problems,” Jurgen says.

Jurgen is one of many dedicated phytopathology resources based in Rijk Zwaan subsidiaries around the world, who work with colleagues at the company’s headquarters in De Lier, Holland.

Staying ahead of biosecurity and phytosanitary regulations on a global scale is imperative and the Rijk Zwaan network is invaluable.

“There’s always new challenges in managing pests and diseases, such as chemical registrations and biological control, and this makes it important for us to have all the information so we know how best to handle these problems.”