Coordinating pest and disease R&D for the Australian potato industry

RMCG consultants Kristen Stirling and Doris Blaesing have a passion for making sure that research and development (R&D) delivers real industry impact. They have used this passion to communicate research outcomes to those looking to manage pest and disease innovatively and sustainably on Australian potato farms.

Kristen and Doris coordinated the Australian potato pest and disease R&D program, funded by Hort Innovation, from 2018 to 2021. Key activities to inform industry of pest and disease research outcomes included delivery of:

  • R&D Forums
  • Pest and disease management resources
  • Webinars
  • Regional presentations.

R&D Forums

R&D Forums were held in 2019 and 2021. The Forums provided attendees with:

  • The latest information on pest and disease research of relevance to the potato industry
  • Case studies on how the research is used or will be used in the industry
  • An opportunity to provide feedback on future R&D priorities
  • A chance to network with other industry members.


The Forums featured presentations from:

  • Australian and international researchers
  • Service providers and growers discussing their experiences with R&D outputs in the field
  • Panels to discuss management of key endemic and exotic pests and diseases.


To view the 2021 Forum you can see the Day 1 recording or Day 2 recording.

Pest and disease management resources

Soil-borne disease fact sheets

Pink rot, black leg and powdery scab are soil-borne diseases that are difficult to control during potato production. Kristen and Doris developed fact sheets, in collaboration with industry experts/researchers, providing industry facing guidance on current R&D knowledge and best practice management of these diseases. These fact sheets can be accessed below:

International potato pests and disease R&D scan 2020

International potato R&D

While the coordinators largely focused on the key pest and disease issues facing Australian producers, it is also important to maintain an awareness of the issues faced by producers in other countries. While Australia is currently free of several economically significant potato pests and diseases, recent biosecurity breaches have shown that Australian growers and the RD&E providers should be prepared.

As part of a watching brief on international R&D activity on potato pest and disease management, the coordinators identified and reviewed pest and disease research occurring in five of the major potato producing regions in the world in a global scan. Links within the report provide more detailed information on these projects and available resources.

Identification of some of the research that has been conducted in Australia on the pests and diseases mentioned in the scan is also provided. The scan includes information on what the research findings mean in the Australian context.

More information

To find out more about this program, or other types of R&D coordination delivered by RMCG please contact Dr Kristen Stirling on 0488 908 416.


Dr Kristen Stirling

Dr Kristen Stirling


PhD., B.Ag.Sci.

Kristen is an experienced researcher and industry development specialist. She successfully combines project management skills and technical expertise to deliver projects in agriculture and water related industries. She enjoys working with landholders and large organizations to inform and clarify decision-making. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, stakeholder consultation and program evaluation.

Dr Doris Blaesing

Dr Doris Blaesing


Dipl.Ing.Agr., Dr.rer.hort.

Doris has extensive experience in agricultural business development, resource management and R&D. She has a good understanding of agricultural production systems and supply chains. Her strengths are strategy and concept development, innovative thinking, problem solving, multi-disciplinary project management and communication on all levels with a broad range of people. Doris worked in public and private research, education, export and agribusinesses.