Locust expert flies off into the sunset
31 August 2016
When northern Victoria's fields were dark with locusts in 2010, Gordon Berg provided the scientific advice and modelling to help save the state's crops and pasture.
Gordon Berg started working for the government in 1973, when he took a job as an agricultural scientist in Burnley.
It didn't take him long to move on to entomology, the study of insects – in late 1973 Victoria had a major locust outbreak and Gordon was part of the team working in the field to reduce their damage.
Gordon has been chasing locusts ever since.
His abiding interest in the insects that live in pasture led him to a short stint in the Chemical Standards branch – pesticides are an important part of locust control – followed by 12 years as Manager of Crop Health Services (diagnostics) team at Knoxfield.
By 2006, Gordon thought he had had enough, but his retirement didn't last long – he took work as a casual employee for the biosecurity team and joined the team formally in 2009.
That year he became Victoria's Plague Locust Commissioner. It was excellent timing for the farmers of Victoria as his expertise was hugely valued in the response to the 2010 locust plague.
During that plague, Gordon told The Age that he had heard of ''something like 8000 hectares of canola basically vanishing in a day''.
A program of pesticide application at the right stage of the locusts' development was key to the success of the campaign.
Gordon attended information sessions across the state, educating the farming community and public space managers on chemical treatments to effectively control the locusts.
Acting Head of Emergency Management for the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Russell McMurray, said Gordon will be missed.
"During the plague Gordon became a celebrity and undertook countless media interviews, thanks to his friendly nature and ability to explain the science of entomology to the lay person," he said.
Gordon Berg will take leave from the department at the end of August and officially retire in January.
The new Plague Locust Commissioner will take over the role in September.
Categorised under: Agriculture,Biosecurity