Recognition for research on insect pests

14 August 2017

Professor Max Suckling is the recipient of the 2017 New Zealand Plant Protection Society Medal, awarded at the Society’s Annual Conference held recently.  

The medal recognises those who have made an exceptional contribution to plant protection, whether through research, education, implementation or leadership.

Professor Suckling is Science Group Leader for Biosecurity at Plant & Food Research and holds a position in the University of Auckland’s School of Biological Sciences. 

He has conducted research on a range of insect pests for a range of sectors, including pioneering work on developing mating disruption techniques for controlling insect pests. 

Of particular note, his work on insect sex pheromones has been taken up in many sectors, including pipfruit, summerfruit and border biosecurity. 

“Pheromone traps have helped us to know where and when particular insect pests are active, but mating disruption techniques have given us the chance to reduce the reliance on insecticides,” says Professor Suckling. 

“For apple orchardists, this has reduced the need for sprays and enabled residue-free and pest-free fruit for export. Products like ‘4-Play’ now provide economic control of four pests with one device in each tree.”

Professor Suckling, a former president of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society, says that while these methods might be less visible, the economy relies heavily on scientific experts on insects, plant diseases and weeds to minimise economic losses.

The New Zealand Plant Protection Society is affiliated with the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and has been active for 70 years, supporting careers in Crown Research Institutes, universities and relevant industries.

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