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

Biosecurity basics: Utility contractors

June 26, 2012

gate signPreventing the arrival and establishment of new diseases, pests and weeds is just as important as controlling those already present on a property. People moving between farms and regions can unintentionally spread pests on vehicles, equipment, boots and clothing. The most obvious risks are diseases carried in soil and plant material.

Some producers will have mining operators or contractors on their property to do maintenance work, or to access utilities such as power, water, gas, or phone infrastructure. Contractors can be a potential biosecurity risk because they move from farm-to-farm and region-to-region. If care is not taken, they can spread pests from and to susceptible plants and animals on their clothing, equipment and vehicles.

Well placed signage can play an important part in raising the awareness of farm visitors to biosecurity. Signs at entrances should direct visitors to contact the owner or farm manager to formally register their presence, before entering the property. The sign should include important contact details, such as the home telephone number, mobile number and/or UHF channel.

Ask contractors to stay on formed roads or laneways wherever possible to limit the spread of pests and weeds.

It is impractical to stop all vehicle and equipment movement on and off the property, but using dedicated farm vehicles, washing down machinery on concrete pads and denying access to dirty machinery can aid in reducing the spread of unwanted pests around your property. Limit the risk of contractors introducing new pests onto your property, by requesting all contractors’ vehicles and equipment be cleaned before starting work on your property. Provide a suitable wash-down bay to complete this task.

To ensure your property does not become the source of pest infections for others, you have a responsibility to inform contractors of any declared or notifiable pests already present on your farm. This will enable them to clean down properly or take other appropriate actions.

Remember to keep a record of who has been on your property and where they came from. Being able to ‘trace-back’ and ‘trace-forward’ can be important in the limiting the extent of an incursion.

As a producer, you have an important role to play in protecting your farm and region from biosecurity threats. Each biosecurity practice should be embedded in your farm’s everyday management to reduce the risk of spreading any pest or disease.

If you suspect a new pest or disease, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 or the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Visit the Records page for a template for a farm gate sign and a visitor register.