Farmers are reminded to ensure that biosecurity is an important part of their farm agenda this year.
Department of Agriculture and Food grains biosecurity officer Jeff Russell said biosecurity should be included in planning for the year ahead.
“On-farm biosecurity is all about hygiene and developing good habits, so the start of a new year is the ideal time to think about developing a farm biosecurity plan, or undertaking a review of an existing plan,” Mr Russell said.
“Many people understand biosecurity as something that happens at the nation’s border to keep pests and diseases out of Australia. However, it is also about looking at what can be done at a local level including on the farm to keep it free from unwanted or exotic pests and diseases.
“Making a biosecurity plan for the farm could be a vital first step toward protection from an unwanted pest, saving both time and money.”
Mr Russell said there were a number of basic steps to follow when developing a biosecurity plan for a farm.
“Consider the areas of possible risk to your business such as seed or fertilisers brought onto the farm,” he said. “People and vehicles can also bring in unwanted pests. Consider who needs to come onto your farm and what risks they might bring with them.”
Stock movement also presents a risk of introducing pests, either with new stock or through the feed they eat. On-farm grain storages can also harbour pests.
“Consider if you have specific pests in some paddocks and plan ways to reduce or eliminate the risk of them spreading to other parts of the farm,” Mr Russell said.
“You can’t keep everything or everyone off your farm, but there are a number of things that can be done to reduce the risk of a new pest becoming established. It is worthwhile considering a register of product movement on and off the farm and ensure you know the source of products such as seed brought onto the farm.”
Mr Russell said visitors should notify farmers before coming onto the property.
“To get started, draw up a physical plan of your farm and identify where the roads are, and provide designated parking areas and wash down areas,” he said. “This can then be given to people who need to come onto your property.
“Place a sign at your property’s gateway instructing visitors to respect your farm biosecurity requirements, and ask them to phone/contact you before entering. Alternatively you can place a visitor’s register in a drum at the front gate and ask people to sign it. It is also important that they leave contact details for you.
“Developing a surveillance plan for crops is advisable, and farmers should always report any unusual pests that they or their agronomist doesn’t recognise.
“New stock should be quarantined for at least seven days in an area that can be readily checked for pests. Feed hay or grain should be put in a designated area, which can be checked frequently for weeds or pests.”
Mr Russell said once farmers had identified the risks and ways they could reduce them, it was important to have a plan ready for implementation.
“Once in place, it is then a matter of reviewing your plan on a regular basis,” he said. “Consider if it is working how you thought it would, and ensure that you are keeping the records you need. Also look at whether visitors to the farm are following your wishes, and check to see if there are risks that were not identified in the initial plan.
“Not all the activities mentioned can be undertaken immediately, but farmers can make a small start and improve things gradually.”
Assistance in developing a biosecurity plan and a copy of the Farm Biosecurity Manual for the Grains Industry is available by contacting Jeff Russell on 08 9690 2229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on farm biosecurity can also be found at farmbiosecurity.com.au
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, media liaison +61 8 9368 3937