Training tests vehicle inspection skills

People inspecting a tractor

A recent workshop provided training in vehicle inspection techniques as part of efforts to help grain and cotton growers improve biosecurity.

PHOTO: Plant Health Australia

Finding the sticky dots strategically placed onto vehicles in areas where crop debris collects was the task set for trainee machinery inspectors at workshops held recently in New South Wales to boost biosecurity.

Finding the dots ensured that participants knew how to check all the nooks and crannies in vehicles and equipment that could harbour weed seeds and soil potentially infected with pests and disease.

The workshops, held in Griffith and Hillston, in southern NSW, were arranged by Cotton Australia, working with grains and cotton growers to reduce biosecurity risks on-farm.

Cotton and grains go hand-in-hand in southern NSW so it makes sense to work together on raising awareness of the principles of farm biosecurity, which are the same for all agricultural industries.

One of the practical exercises at the workshop was the machinery inspector training. Participants were asked to find several sticky dots that had been placed on a tractor and a ute by a machinery coordinator from the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Each dot marked a key area that needed to be inspected for soil, plant matter and other contaminants. The exercise demonstrated the effort that goes into inspecting imported machinery. Participants struggled to find all the dots in inconspicuous places.

A demonstration provided by NSW Department of Primary Industries cotton pathologist Dr Karen Kirkby showed how even the smallest area on vehicles or equipment has the potential to carry large quantities of pathogens.

Grain growers are most concerned about soil-borne diseases, snails and soil pests such as nematodes, while cotton producers are keen to prevent the spread of verticillium fungi. All growers need to prevent weeds being spread from one area to another.

Industry plant biosecurity officer Rebekah Niall spoke at the workshops about reducing biosecurity risks on farms and reporting any unusual pests or diseases.

James Hill, operations manager of ‘Point Farms’, south of Griffith, says he found the workshop to be very useful. “It gave a great prompt for us to improve our on-farm hygiene awareness,” he says.

“The workshop has encouraged us to increase our vigilance with machinery hygiene, and we are making efforts to ensure equipment is cleaned down properly, before and after use, especially when transported between our farms.”

More information:

Rachel Taylor-Hukins, NSW grains biosecurity officer, Grains Farm Biosecurity Program, Plant Health Australia,
0409 945 069,
rachel.taylor-hukins@dpi.nsw.gov.au

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