Farmers in much of the lush food basin of eastern Australia face the prospect of huge crop losses as locusts swarm in plague proportions.
GV Swarm of locusts. (4 shots)
GV PAN ACROSS Rice fields Coleamble region on the Riverina. (2 shots)
SV Rice fields reduced to dust.
SV Grazing crops reduced to stubble.
CU Locusts devour grazing crops.
SV Light aircraft spraying crops. (2 shots)
SV Light aircraft landing after spraying operation.
GV AND SV Farmers watching locusts swarming. (3 shots)
CU Farmer interviewed.
WALEY: "The haze in the distance is not dust. It's part of a swarm of plague locusts. A swarm that stretches 38 miles. There are so many of them, their numbers run to billions. A large swarm like this will devour a hundred thousand tons of fodder in a single day. And now they are flying, the pest is even harder to control.
Down in the Coleamble (phonetic spelling) region of the Riverina, rice is a popular crop. Normally it looks like this.
Overnight the plague converted this holding to dust......
Knee-high grazing land reduced to grey stubble. What's worse, the hoppers contaminate the soil with their saliva. Stock will not go near a field devastated by the pest.
Aerial spraying can stop the hoppers but only if all properties concerned tackle the problem quickly. The catch is that some properties obviously haven't so that some properties where the fledglings were sprayed are now being ruined by a plague that has literally migrated south. It's a costly mistake. Agricultural authorities are ordering more planes into the worst affected areas. But, with a third of the state facing a critical problem of plague proportions it's clear the programme has not been coordinated and the problem will haunt the central and southern regions until next spring at least."
WALEY: "Is there anything that locusts don't like?"
FARMER: "Well....we have yet to see I think. Because we are going to soon find out what they don't like because there is very little left in this area."
Initials VS 1.10
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Background: Farmers in much of the lush food basin of eastern Australia face the prospect of huge crop losses as locusts swarm in plague proportions. Sydney Channel Nine reporter, Jim Waley, has been to the scene.