[21 July/ Stuff]

Scientist Dr Charles Merfield believes using mesh to ward off the potato psyllid is more successful and less expensive than using chemicals. Trials using mesh to cover the crops have shown a large reduction in insect numbers. The insect delivers a destructive bacterium to the plant and tubers, causing major production losses. The mesh is $1000 per hectare cheaper than chemicals, and increases yields by 12 percent, causing gross margin profit to rise between 27 to 75 percent. The mesh did not manage to stop aphids from damaging crops. Plant & Food Research Crop Protection Specialist Dr Jessica Dohmen-Vereijssen backed the mesh but added that more work was needed to assess its viability in large fields, as the mesh made it difficult to check for pathogens.