On-farm biosecurity: Travelling and dealing with visitors by Dr Simon McKirdy (Plant Health Australia) and Greg Shea (WA Department of Agriculture)

Visitors: please respect Farm Hygiene

OVER THE last two decades, more than 20 new incursions of exotic pests, weeds and diseases have entered Australian grain growing areas.

Industry biosecurity is a shared responsibility involving governments, industry and the general community. Biosecurity needs to be in place at the national border, at regional or state borders, and at the farm gate. Growers can playa critical role by ensuring a high level of biosecurity on their own property.

Following are tips on how growers can ensure a high level of biosecurity when travelling and letting visitors on to the property.

Travelling

Exploring interstate and overseas farms is becoming an increasingly popular way for farmers to research different farm practices, new technologies, and occasionally to view serious pests that are not yet present in Australia. However, you could potentially put your property and the industry at risk if you don't take simple biosecurity measures. Next time you visit an interstate or overseas farm, be particularly conscious of your actions.

  • Follow basic biosecurity precautions on the farm youare visiting, and when leaving or returning to Australia. Many insects, pathogens and weeds can be carried in clothing, on shoes or in your hair. Wash your clothing, footwear and hair before returning home.
  • Avoid the purchase of seeds from a foreign country to minimise the risk of importation of exotic pests and diseases along with seed.
  • Make sure you go through the quarantine channel for people who have visited farms when returning to Australia and declare that you have recently visited farms overseas. Declare any imported seed or plant material.

Dealing with visitors (including contractors, suppliers, consultants and government agencies)

  • Restrict farm access so that visitors keep to the homestead or central laneways. Put up signs at all entry points informing visitors of your biosecurity standards.
  • Make it known to all visitors that all machinery, vehicles, bins and boxes coming onto your property must be cleaned of soil residue. This includes delivery trucks, contract planters, harvesters and sprayers, including borrowed equipment.
  • Make it easy for contractors, crop consultants, field officers and other visitors to clean machinery, equipment and they come onto, and before they leave, your property. Site the clean-ing area so it is not on your main thoroughfare.
  • Turn away or clean anything that does not meet your biosecurity standards.
  • Ensure that agricultural machinery, plant and equipment are cleaned of plant material and soil before being moved to a new work site. Tell contractors in advance of your requirements.
  • Where possible, use your own vehicle to carry visitors around the farm.
  • If you are visiting other properties in your vehicle, remember the above points when you return to your property.

For further information on Plant Health Australia and the National Grains Biosecurity Plan, see the PHA web site www.planthealthaustralia.com.au/grains or email the Program Manager, Dr Simon McKirdy, at: simon@phau.com.au.

For details on GrainGuard and the WA Department of Agriculture, please visit their web site at www.agric.wa.gov.au or email the GrainGuard Coordinator, Frances Casella, at: fcasella@agric.wa.gov.au; or Farm Biosecurity Coordinator, Greg Shea, at: gshea@agric.wa.gov.au.