During spring and summer many wineries and fruit producers encourage customers to visit their properties to have a picnic or pick their own fruit. But any visitors to a property can unintentionally bring pests, diseases and weed seeds with them.
There are a number of simple things you can do to address the biosecurity concerns associated with inviting customers onto your farm. They include:
• provide a dedicated parking area for visitors to easily access the picking area, but located well away from production areas
• ask visitors to wash their hands before entering the picking area
• provide a footbath for visitors to clean their shoes or provide alternative footwear (such as gumboots) for use while picking
• have a dedicated area where members of the public can pick fruit which is separate from the main production areas
• use signs to make sure that visitors know where they can and cannot go on your property
• check the areas visited by customers frequently for signs of diseases, pests and weeds
• plant sentinel trees (varieties that are particularly susceptible to diseases or pests) to act as a focus for potential pest infestation and increased monitoring.
These simple measures can go a long way towards preventing unwanted diseases, pests and weeds while still encouraging people to visit your business and enjoy the farm environment.
Completing a self-assessment questionnaire is a good way to identify areas where you can implement biosecurity practices to reduce the risks to your business.
Wineries also encourage visitors to take a walk through or to have a picnic in amongst the vines as part of the wine tasting experience.
Dr Frank van de Loo, viticulturalist and manager at Mt Majura vineyard, is one of the producers interviewed in the Farm Biosecurity videos about his management of biosecurity risks associated with visitors to the property, particularly grapevine phylloxera.
“Customers that come to the winery can go for a walk through the vineyard. We call it our Gumboot Tour. They have to have their shoes cleaned, because they might be coming from another grape growing region. They are interested in wine, and other grape growing regions have pests that we are trying to keep out. So we either spray off their shoes or we get them to change into our gumboots which are okay,” said Frank.
Producers of all kinds are encouraged to address the risks of introducing pests and diseases onto their property through increased visitor numbers by introducing biosecurity measures.