Pest and disease management
Pest and disease management is an ongoing challenge for the mushroom industry. The industry is constantly scanning globally to understand emerging diseases. Pest and disease management strategies are continually discussed and reviewed within the industry and the correct and appropriate use of chemicals is an area of focus.
While the industry continues to explore cost effective alternatives, maintaining access to chemicals is important. For chemical companies, the Australian market is considered small and the industry is cognisant of the importance of ensuring there is ongoing access to appropriate chemicals and that they are used in compliance with the manufacturers’ or Minor Use Permit directives.2
AGORA is the industry’s pest and disease knowledge management and communication system that is accessible via a grower log-in.
If you need to set up access or have forgotten your password for Agora, please contact Chris Rowley on 0415 140 253.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is the regulator of agricultural chemical products in Australia. Chemical use is governed by the APVMA and state authorities, such as Environmental Protection Authorities. Employer’s should ensure that they are aware of their legal responsibilities for obtaining and having Safety Data Sheets (SDS) available (formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets). SDSs are prepared by the manufacturer or importer of hazardous chemicals. Safe Work Australia has a Code of Practice available for the preparation of SDS for hazardous chemicals.
Chemical use training
In addition to undertaking training in one of the four GFSI Schemes, any workers who are involved in the supervision of the storage, handling, application and disposal of chemicals should successfully complete a recognised chemical users’ course or equivalent. At the time of printing, the current nationally recognised training competencies are:
1. AHCCHM307 - Prepare and apply chemicals to control pest, weeds and diseases (Release 1)
2. AHCCHM304 - Transport and store chemicals (Release 3)
There are a number of training course providers that deliver these competency units. A full list of registered training organisations and nationally recognised training competencies can be found on the Australian Government’s Training website.
Current minor use permits
Hort innovation has a list of minor use permits for the mushroom industry available on their website, which is updated on a quarterly basis. Minor use permit updates are circulated in the Growing Innovation e-newsletter, which levy-paying members receive monthly. Permits are also searchable at any time on the APVMA website at www.apvma.gov.au.
Permits, maximum residue limits and the food standards code
Users are advised that while a product can be applied legally under an APVMA minor use permit, there can be a significant delay until the maximum residue limit (MRL) gazetted by the APVMA is adopted in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Until this occurs, the MRL may not be recognised and a zero tolerance may be imposed for residues of the pesticide resulting from its use according to the APVMA permit. Current minor use permits can be accessed here.
Please be aware that in the absence of an MRL in the Food Standards Code, the use of the pesticide according to the permit may result in the suspension of the produce in the marketplace. Please check the FSANZ website or the Australian Government ComLaw website to confirm if there are MRLs established by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.18
On-farm biosecurity practices help protect you from established pests and diseases, and in the event of new pest entry into Australia, from exotic pests. In addition to being best practice, increasingly, state legislation is changing to make it a legal requirement that everyone, including mushroom growers, reduce risks under their control.
Growers should ensure they comply with all inter and intrastate biosecurity requirements for inspection and traceability of all product dispatched.
All states and territories have legislation for biosecurity management, which include requirements for reporting new pests and diseases. Each state and territory have its own Biosecurity legislation and can be found at:
|State or territory||Act|
Farm disease monitoring scheme
There are several fungal and viral diseases that commonly infect commercial white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) crops in Australia and cause yield losses in the order of 10%.
The four diseases which cause the greatest losses in the Australian industry are:
- Lecanicillium (previously Verticillium)
- Bacterial blotch.
The industry is continually seeking to improve management practices that increase disease control effectiveness, improve WHS, and protect product integrity. The mushroom industry has access to a validated method for identifying the four most common disease listed above. Sampling protocols for shelf, tray and block mushroom farms have been developed for all the diseases, and for a range of infection levels ranging from the ongoing monitoring of disease control measures to managing severe disease outbreaks. A diagnostic testing kit is now commercially available for growers.19