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Biosecurity is about awareness and action

A biosecurity sign at a Queensland National Variety Trials site.
Photo: GRDC

Good biosecurity is about being aware and taking action. Plant pests and diseases can be easily spread between paddocks and farming regions through the movement of machinery, vehicles, boots, clothes or even in your lunch.

Introducing a grain disease such as karnal bunt (Tilletia indica), a fungus affecting grains of wheat, durum and triticale, could cause devastating losses to the Australian grains industry and the livelihood of growers.

Whether you are a consultant, agronomist, contractor, transporter, utilities provider or on a social visit, understanding that biosecurity is a shared responsibility is key. As a visitor to any farm in Australia you have a responsibility under the legislation relevant to that jurisdiction that requires you to follow biosecurity protocols when entering and leaving the property.

The Grains Farm Biosecurity Program (GFBP) has simple farm visitor guidelines to follow to help minimise biosecurity risks when working on farms.

Before arriving

1. Contact the owner or farm manager. Inform the grower when you intend to enter the property and ask if there are any specific protocols or precautions in place, such as designated parking or wash-down areas.

2. Make sure your clothes, vehicle and equipment are clean. Soil and plant material can carry weed seeds and pests when left on tyres, radiator grilles, wheel arches, floor mats and work boots. Clean vehicles and equipment before you arrive on the property.

3. Carry a biosecurity kit in your vehicle. Each kit should contain items to clean clothing, vehicles and equipment and any personal safety gear.

The cleaning equipment should include: stiff brushes and a scraper for cleaning boots and equipment; dustpan and brush for cleaning cabin of vehicles; rubber boots or boot covers or spare pair of boots; disposable gloves; plastic tray and/or a bucket (for use as a footbath and to clean equipment); detergent or disinfectant for disinfecting boots and equipment; hand sanitiser or hand wash; strong plastic bags for disposable items/dirty clothing/shoes; and five litres of water.

On arrival

1. Sign the visitor register. Anyone visiting a farm should sign a register if provided. This allows growers to record movements to and from the property and is an effective way to trace the spread of pests.

2. Use designated laneways and tracks. Equipment travelling through production areas can spread plant pests. Keep to laneways and minimise contact with any crops.

3. Close farm gates. Livestock can carry soil on their hooves and pick up weed seeds and plant diseases when walking through crops. Ensuring stock are kept in designated paddocks is important in preventing the spread of pests within the farm.

4. Report anything unusual. Notify the grower or manager if you see any unusual plant pests, weeds or obvious plant health concerns so appropriate action can be taken.

Before leaving

1. Clean everything. It is just as important to leave the property as you entered it. Make use of vehicle wash-down stations, high-pressure hoses and appropriate detergents to clean all soil and plant material from your vehicle, equipment and clothing. This is especially important if you are moving on to another property.

2. Sign out of the visitor register. For your own safety, the register will let the grower know if you are still on the property.

3. Fill out your vehicle logbook. Use your vehicle logbook to record the date, time and site location of visits. This information is important when tracing the potential spread of a pest.

More information: Grains Farm Biosecurity website

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