Biosecurity on-farm What growers can do

If you have herbicide-resistant weeds, make sure when you're washing down the harvester to control water runoff and soil erosion from the area.

Ground Cover 43 introduced the nationwide industry 'biosecurity' plan being put in place now by Plant Health Australia and the grains industry. The security threats are insects, plant diseases and weeds. With the recent stripe rust incursion in WA, the subject could not be more topical.

Below, Simon McKirdy (Plant Health Australia) and Greg Shea (WA Department of Agriculture) outline what growers can do to ensure a high level of biosecurity on their own properties.

BIOSECURITY MEASURES need to be in place at the national border, at regional or state borders and at the farm gate. Growers can playa crucial role by ensuring a high level of biosecurity on their own property. The first part of this two-part article will identify general biosecurity actions that growers can take to protect their properties and the overall industry.

Plant Health Australia (PHA) is developing national Industry Biosecurity Plans (IBP) for plant industries. The grains industry is among the first to have begun development of a biosecurity plan.

Westem Australia has also developed biosecurity plans for the grains industry. This holistic plan was prepared through industry-government collaboration as part of the GrainGuard program.

Both PHA's national grains IBP and GrainGuard aim to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of all players in protecting the grains industry.

What can growers do?

The actions of growers can have a major impact on the future of their own businesses and the wider industry. Implementing biosecurity measures at the property level also helps protect individual businesses and the industry by minimising the potential for entry and spread of both exotic threats, and threats already present in Australia.

First steps

  • Decide on the biosecurity goals and standards you want to maintain and write them down.
  • Train your staff and family about biosecurity and your expectations.
  • Put up signs at your front gate and elsewhere to show your biosecurity requirements.

General on-farm biosecurity

  • Wash footwear and equipment before entering and leaving high-risk areas such as nurseries and seed crop paddocks.
  • Identify any areas on your property that are infested with weeds or diseases so that they can be avoided or so precautions can be taken to prevent further spread. Put up signs and fences to show the boundaries of these areas where practical.
  • Report suspicious insects, diseases and weeds to your Agriculture Department as soon as detected.
  • Try to buy seed and planting material that is certified or accredited as being free from insects, diseases or weeds.
  • Source fodder from weed-free properties.
  • Learn to identify local weeds, so you can detect introduced weeds. Work with neighbours to decrease the spread of weeds.
  • Keep access roads and yards weed-free.
  • Install a wash-down pad near the main buildings with a safe sump to catch all run-off.
  • Check the cleanliness and quality of seed, grain or hay before it comes onto your property.
  • Minimise the spread of such threats as herbicide-resistant weeds within the property, by:
    • working in clean areas first and contaminated areas last
    • restricting access to, and movement of, equipment from contaminated areas
    • control water run-off and soil erosion from contaminated areas
    • dispose of crop/plant residues promptly, and
    • control weeds before they spread.

For further information on Plant Health Australia and the National Grains Biosecurity Plan see the PHA web site ( grains) or contact the Program Manager, Dr Simon McKirdy (

For details on GrainGuard and the WA Department of Agriculture, visit their web site at or contact the GrainGuard Coordinator, Frances Casella ( or Farm Biosecurity Coordinator, Greg Shea (

Next issue we'll look at biosecurity when travelling and dealing with visitors.