Providing practical information to help you protect your farm from biosecurity risks

Biosecurity basics: Monitoring and surveillance of pests

March 3, 2013

Inspecting lucerneAn important part of biosecurity on your farm should be the routine checking of crops and livestock for signs of pests and disease. The date and all observations should be recorded, even if you didn’t find anything.

Regular monitoring of your crops or livestock gives you the best chance of identifying a new pest before it becomes established. This can be incorporated into existing integrated pest management (IPM) or property pest management plans (PPMP) as part of your routine farm management activities.

Steps you can take to improve your chances of early pest or disease detection include:

  • Establish an active monitoring program and record the results, even when nothing is found.
  • Become familiar with the usual animal and plant disease symptoms, insect pests and weeds found on your property. By knowing what’s normally found on your property will increase your chances of discovering something unusual. Consult with neighbours on anything suspicious, as it is unlikely that the cause of the problem doesn’t stop at your own property boundaries.
  • Know what the high priority biosecurity threats are for your industry. This information is available through your local veterinarian, industry group or state/territory department of primary industries. The ‘pests’ pages within the Crops section also contains information about high priority pests of crops.
  • Ensure your farm personnel know how and where to report any unusual diseases, pests or weeds.

Any unusual pest or disease symptom should be reported immediately via the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 or the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. Early detection and reporting enhances the chance of effective pest control and/or eradication, and will also prevent or minimise the long-term damage to the individual producer and their industry.

If you suspect you have found an exotic pest, the following general precautions should be taken:

  • Report it.
  • If possible, photograph the pest or disease symptoms.
  • Mark the location of the pest in your crop or isolate affected livestock.
  • Wash hands, clothes and boots that have been in contact with affected animal, plant material or soil.
  • Restrict the movement of people or equipment near the affected area.
  • Do not touch, move or send affected material anywhere. Contact your state/territory department of primary industries and they will assist with the correct protocols for sampling, handling and transport of samples. Incorrect handling could further spread the pest or make the samples unfit for diagnosis.
  • Identify people, stock and machinery/vehicles that have recently been the area and ready them for decontamination or treatment. Accurate records of people and equipment that has been in contact with the property will help to track the potential spread and/or origin of the pest or disease.

Visit the Records page for copies of surveillance records.