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

Biosecurity moves from cows to crops

September 2, 2013

Cow-grazing-and-harvested-cropIncreasing the focus on farm biosecurity makes good sense to LeAnne and Wes Judd, dairy farmers who grow grain and fodder for their dairy on the Condamine River in Queensland. After attending a farm biosecurity and grain storage workshop last year, LeAnne has initiated several biosecurity activities for their farming operation.

“The main reason we moved to Riverton from Emu Vale, east of Warwick, was to expand our business and ensure our sons had a future in the industry,” LeAnne says. “We wanted the security of irrigation for cropping and room to expand. We ended up purchasing two properties next door to each other near Millmerran, ‘Riverton’ and ‘Gleniston’. In all we have 878 hectares of cropping country, of which 401ha can be irrigated. The remaining 476ha are used for dryland cropping and grazing.”

The Judds’ cropping operation supplies feed for their dairy so they can be as self-sufficient as possible. A large proportion of the crops they grow are cut or harvested for fodder. They grow pasture as feed for their cows, as well as maize, sorghum and wheat, and barley and oats in winter.

“As milk producers, biosecurity and quality control have always been a priority,” LeAnne says. “All Australian dairy farms are required to be quality assured. Our operation at ‘Riverton’ is audited every two years to make sure everything is in order.”

In October 2012, LeAnne attended a farm biosecurity and grain storage workshop at a neighbour’s property. She realised that although they were already using good biosecurity practices on the dairy side of the business, there were things that could improve on the grain side.

“I put up signs at the gates asking people to call before entering,” LeAnne says. “While we don’t want to stop people undertaking legitimate work for us, we believe that knowing who has been on the property and when and recording that information is very important from both a biosecurity and safety point of view.

“If we were to have an incursion of a new pest or a disease on the property it would be vital for trace-forward and trace-back to be able to quickly contact anyone who had been on the property, both to minimise its spread and also hopefully eradicate it.

“Biosecurity is something that you need to be continually planning ahead for. We also have plans to improve our machinery wash-down facilities and would love to put in a sealed silo.”

Machinery is already cleaned down after use as a matter of course. It is either blown down using high pressure air or, if washing is required, cleaned using a gurney. The Judds’ son Alan, who does contract baling for other growers, is particularly careful to keep machinery clean of weeds and pests – not only does it stop the spread of pests but it is also better for the machinery.

Living on the river allows irrigation for crops when needed, but the downside is the potential for flooding, which has occurred in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

“Three floods in four years has really been frustrating,” LeAnne says. “This latest flood has really stripped the property of a lot of topsoil. The floods have also brought in lots of weeds. Prior to floods we didn’t have Johnston grass. Now it’s not only along the river but also in some paddocks.

“After the first flood in 2010, I rowed a large part of the river almost down to Cecil Plains in the retrieval of dairy stock that was washed away in that flood, and I was amazed at how much Nagoora burr and caster oil plant there was. We’ve also had a huge incursion of lippia (Phyla canescens) into our grazing country and are in the process of ploughing to knock it back and resow the area to pasture.”

Article reproduced with permission from the Grains Research and Development Corporation