Banana biosecurity crackdown sees new meter readings and more Zedlines...

Remotely read electricity meters will be installed in North Queensland in an attempt to reduce the spread of a soil fungus threatening the banana industry. (Image source: Pixabay)

The new biosecurity crackdown comes amidst concerns meter readers who need to enter banana farms could spread the fungus, called Panama Tropical Race 4.

Biosecurity protocols restricting all non essential vehicles from entering farms have been in place since the detection of TR4 in the region, which supplies 85% of produce to Australia’s $500 million banana industry.

Ergon Energy Corporate Communications Manager, John Fowler, said the remotely controlled readers will rely on the 3G and 4G network, and depending on the outcomes Ergon may consider using the technology for other industries facing a biosecurity threat.

Employers to pay for workplace deaths

Industrial manslaughter offenders will soon earn hefty jail time and fines, after legislation was passed in State Parliament yesterday.

Individuals may receive up to 20 years’ imprisonment for the offence, while the maximum fine for corporations will be $10 million.

The LNP voted against the bill, saying it was a “union payback”.

But the Queensland Council of Unions said there is nothing more important than workers getting home safely at the end of their shift.

The move comes after 40 workplace fatalities were reported in Queensland last year.

First pill-testing trial cancelled

The first pill testing trial at a music festival in Australia has been cancelled after organisers pulled out.

The trial, which was to be held at the Spilt Milk festival in Canberra on November 25, was announced by the ACT government last month.

The first time pill-testing, called a victory for public health, had been permitted to operate at an Australian event, approved after months of negotiations with the Safety Testing Advisory Service at Festivals and Events, or STA-Safe, a consortium of pill-testing advocates.

But yesterday, Director from Spilt Milk festival organisers Ryan Phillips told Triple J’s HACK the trial would no longer go ahead, due to STA-Safe needing “more time to provide documentation, insurance, legal framework to operate on federal land.”

Technology behind new weed busting tool for farmers

Technology associated with gaming is being used in the fight against weeds.

Researchers at the University of Southern Queensland’s National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture have leveraged off the automotive and gaming industries, to develop a sophisticated weed spot sprayer.

The development of the weed spot sprayer stems from the issue of herbicide resistance, with cost savings becoming an added benefit.

Senior Research Engineer, Steven Rees, said agricultural industries are in need of military grade technologies, which are affordable for farmers.

Ozone recovery delayed 30 years

Rising emissions of chlorine-containing chemicals could slow the process made in healing the ozone layer, setting back the closing of the hole by up to 30 years.

A study published in the journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, said the substances, mainly produced in China and widely used for paint stripping and manufacturing PVC, are increasing much faster than previously thought, and currently unregulated.

Scientists reported last year that they had the first clear evidence the thinning of the ozone layer was diminishing, finding in 2015 that the hole was around 4 million sq km smaller than it was 2000, a development attributed to the decline of chloroflurocarbons and hyroflurocarbons over the past 30 years.

These new substances, which were previously thought to decay before reaching the ozone layer, are being blown by cold winds from factories in China to the eastern Pacific before getting uplifted into the stratosphere.

Rising flood and landslide death toll in Vietnam

Heavy rain is causing floods and landslides in Vietnam, resulting in one of the highest death tolls from flooding the country has seen.

The flooding started earlier this week in northern and central Vietnam, killing 46 people while another 33 are considered missing.

Reports said 317 homes have been destroyed, more than 34,000 are damaged or submerged, 40,000 animals killed and over 8,000 hectares of rice damaged.