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Plant testing techniques and costs

COVID-19 and Grow Help Australia service update

We anticipate that Grow Help will remain open indefinitely. However, there may be delays in testing and completing reports. We will do everything we can to get results to you promptly.

Email growhelp@daf.qld.gov.au for further information.

Diagnosing plant health problems can be complex and often requires a range of tests to determine the underlying cause. We use a range of techniques in these tests to isolate and diagnose pests and pathogens. The tests have been split into the following 3 types.

Basic tests

Basic tests can be:

  • initial laboratory observations
  • dissection of plant material
  • bacterial ooze tests
  • moist incubations
  • other microscopic examinations that can be completed without culturing or rearing the causal agent.

For each sample, we will complete 3 basic tests for the listed price (see table below). More than 3 basic tests per sample will incur an extra charge.

Complex tests

Complex tests can be:

  • isolating and growing fungal or bacterial pathogens on specific media
  • Phytophthora soil or root tests
  • mounting and identifying insect specimens.

For each sample submitted, up to 3 complex tests are billed at the listed price. For example, if 4–6 complex tests are required to make a diagnosis, you will be billed for twice the listed price. When symptoms appear across multiple regions of the plant (e.g. roots and stem tissue) we often need to complete more than 3 complex tests to make an accurate diagnosis.

Specialist tests

Specialist tests can be:

  • electron microscopic examination for virus particles
  • molecular techniques including PCR, DNA sequencing and ELISA tests.

These tests generally cost more because they require expensive ingredients and take significantly longer to run than basic and complex tests.

Tests we do not complete

We do not test plants to:

  • identify species, variety, or cultivar
  • detect chemicals such as insecticides, fungicides or herbicides on the plant or growing media
  • analyse nutrient levels in the plant or growing media
  • detect bacteria in seeds, soil or growing media.

Cost for analysing plant samples

Both basic and complex tests are generally performed on each sample, however, charges are based on the most expensive test required to make a diagnosis (e.g. if a basic and complex test is performed, we will only charge you for a complex test).

Test type Bulk user Nursery production business * Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia (NIASA) accredited businesses
Basic $74.80 $49.40 No charge *
Complex $74.80 $85.50 No charge **
Specialist The price varies but is generally between $100 and $250. The exact price will be discussed before testing. Discounts may apply for multiple samples that are run simultaneously.

* The nursery HIA levy funded project 'NY15002 Building the resilience and on-farm biosecurity capacity of the Australian production nursery industry' provides nursery producers an additional discount. Other industries may also receive contract rates.

**Note: NIASA accredited businesses receive 10 free complex tests per calendar year until the end of 2020.

  • All prices include GST.
  • Discounted prices apply to bulk users and nursery production businesses only. Bulk users are those who use the service more than 3 times per calendar year. The business keeps its bulk discount if it uses the service at least once per year in subsequent years.
  • Standard charges apply to retail, non-commercial or casual users.
  • Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • Tests listed are those commonly requested—contact Grow Help Australia on growhelp@daf.qld.gov.au or phone our Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23 for details of other tests that are available.
  • Lower rates may apply for large bulk jobs—contact Grow Help Australia on growhelp@daf.qld.gov.au or phone our Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23 for more information.

Making payment

We will send you an invoice by email after you have received the diagnostic report. You can pay by:

  • BPAY (including credit card)
  • cheque
  • money order.

Note to crop consultants: Invoices will made out to you if you submit samples on behalf of a grower. If you would like us to invoice the grower then ask the grower to complete the submission form (or complete it on their behalf).