GRDC North Panel Chair John Minogue said hygiene should be a priority at harvest and was an inexpensive way of protecting your farm into the future.
Growers using contractors this harvest are reminded to have effective ‘come clean, go clean’ protocols on-farm to reduce the spread of pests and weeds.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) acknowledges harvest is a busy time with lots of vehicle movement, but GRDC Northern Panel Chair John Minogue warns that the need for effective biosecurity practices is critical.
“When vehicles and machinery enter a property or move from paddock to paddock, there is a heightened risk of the spread of weeds and weed seeds,” he said
“Weeds are a significant biosecurity concern for all farms as they reduce the carrying capacity of pasture, rob moisture and fertiliser from crops and can be costly both in time and money to control.
“At harvest, vehicle and machinery movements are inevitable, but effective clean-down practices can reduce the risk of weed spread.
“Having a clean-down facility or area where growers and contractors can clean and disinfect all vehicles and machinery entering or leaving the property can reducing the risks.”
Mr Minogue said growers who did not have a wash down facility should provide a clean-up area away from paddocks, preferably graveled, which was easy to monitor for new weeds.
“Weed control is particularly important this harvest following recent overland flooding events,” he said.
“These conditions create the potential for summer and winter weeds and weed seeds to spread onto farms. Weed propagules can also be easily spread via vehicles and machinery that have been exposed to muddy conditions.
“Growers should ensure contractors vehicles and machinery are clean of weeds or weeds seeds, and insist on best practice hygiene and biosecurity for everyone.”
NSW Grains Biosecurity Officer at the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries Rachel Taylor-Hukins agreed and said growers weren’t just protecting their paddocks from weeds, but also their grain from pests.
“The National Grains Farm Biosecurity Program emphasises that hygiene is important to help prevent pest infestations in stored grain as well, and pests can also be transported on farm by machinery, “she said.
“Simple hygiene practices to prevent insect contamination when storing this year’s harvested grain is the most effective way of managing stored insect pests.
“Insects can be harboured where grain residues are left in grain handling equipment and headers, especially if they haven’t been cleaned since last harvest, so machinery cleanliness is key.”
Mr Minogue said while everyone was short of time during harvest, hygiene was an area which must be prioritised.
“We all tend to finish harvest looking forward to a breather, but it is really important to make time post-harvest to give everything a good clean down,” he said.
“Good farm hygiene during and post-harvest puts you on the front foot and it is inexpensive with equipment like an air compressor and fittings, air guns, vacuum cleaner, firefighting pump and hose and brooms.
“Your farm and the farm down the road will appreciate your efforts in minimising cross-farm contamination for this season and those to come.”
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Ellen McNamara, Cox Inall Communications
0429 897 129