Biosecurity lesson in northern disease outbreaks
In the Northern Territory, and most recently in Queensland, outbreaks of the exotic Panama disease have put the future of the banana industry in these states at risk and provided a stark reminder for other farming industries about the importance of biosecurity.
Grains biosecurity officer Rachel Taylor, from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, says the release of a new version of the Biosecurity Manual for Grain Producers is timely given the disease incursions in the north. The grains industry is similarly vulnerable to devastating incursions, she says.
The latest edition of the manual provides updated advice on how growers can boost farm biosecurity to protect their enterprise against weeds, pests and diseases.
“Exotic plant pests pose a significant risk to the grains industry, with more than 600 overseas pests and diseases identified as a threat to Australian growers. It is important for producers to be prepared,” Ms Taylor says.
“These recent incursions show that people shouldn’t wait until there’s a new disease reported in Australia or in their region. Simple changes in procedures on-farm will help protect a property from existing weeds, pests and diseases, as well as any exotic pests.”
She says snails are a good example of a regional pest that growers want to keep out: “Typically a major problem in South Australia, snails have spread to Victoria and southern NSW. They’re easily carried by machinery, illustrating the importance of inspecting and cleaning machinery coming onto the farm.”
Ms Taylor says the new biosecurity manual has been upgraded, with more comprehensive information about on-farm biosecurity measures. It shows how to properly store grains, how to identify particular types of stored-grain pests both common and exotic, and how to fumigate gas-tight storages safely and correctly.
It profiles 15 new high-priority grain pests of canola, winter cereals, pulses and summer grains that producers need to keep an eye out for. Recognising the large proportion of growers with mixed farming systems, the manual also has information on how to manage risks posed by livestock and feed.
Mixed farmer Brett Dawson, whose family runs a grain, sheep and cattle property near Condobolin, NSW, says new livestock and fodder can pose significant risks. “We try not to buy in stock feed,” Mr Dawson says. “We avoid it as much as possible by making sure enough grain is retained on-farm and by making hay when it is required.”
He also sources rams and bulls from the same studs. “That way we know the quality we are getting,” Mr Dawson says. “They are always treated for lice and other pests before arrival, and once on the farm they are kept in a separate paddock before being put in with the rest of the stock.”
The updated manual includes templates for keeping records including a visitor register and surveillance, fumigation and machinery clean-down. It is available online from the Plant Health Australia website. Printed copies are available from state grain biosecurity officers, whose contact details are available on the Plant Health Australia website.
GRDC Project Code NPB00002