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

Vegetable product management


Vegetables | Vegetable pests | Vegetable product management


Planting material and farm inputs

Planting material (including seeds and seedlings) and other farm inputs (such as growing substrates, pesticides, fertilisers, mulches and nutrient mixes) have the potential to carry pests or contaminants onto your farm. Plant material infected with pests such as fungi, bacteria and viruses may look healthy to the naked eye. When purchasing planting material and farm inputs:

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• Purchase only from reputable suppliers, preferably ones that are certified, who take biosecurity, hygiene, health testing and record keeping seriously.

• Check planting material thoroughly for evidence of pests or unusual symptoms. Isolate new plant material from production areas.

• Maintain a record of all planting material and farm inputs brought onto the property.

• Request and retain documentation in relation to planting material and farm inputs – source, testing regimes and import details.

Reduce the risk of pest infestations or contamination of planting material and other farm inputs by storing them appropriately. For example, mulches and fresh manure, composts and fertilisers should be stored on impermeable surfaces away from production areas. Record the use, movement, testing and storage of all planting material and farm inputs that are used on your property.

Waste products

Maintaining good farm hygiene can minimise cross-contamination and pest population build-up. Waste generated through cropping and harvesting practices must be disposed of appropriately to reduce the biosecurity risk.

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Green waste (eg fresh mulch, green crop debris, slashed weeds) can be beneficial if treated correctly. However, careful and timely management is required to reduce the risk of outbreaks of unwanted pests.

Appropriate disposal mechanisms for plant waste include total removal, deep burial (away from production areas), burning (where restrictions permit) or hot composting. Waste should be disposed of immediately and undertaken in combination with an effective monitoring/ pest management program. If immediate removal is not possible, the waste should be contained separately to production areas and covered.

Appropriate disposal mechanisms for plant waste include hot composting or delivery to a dedicated waste management facility.

Ensure that no soil, plant material or insects are left adhering to vehicles, bins or other equipment (including hand tools) that are used on farm.

Biosecurity and quality assurance

If your farm, seed or transplant provider maintains a Quality Assured scheme such as ISO 9000, SQF 2000, NIASA, Freshcare or Woolworths Quality Assurance Scheme, it is likely that some fundamental techniques of biosecurity best practice are already being applied.

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Ensure that the schemes, requirements and records are in accordance with your farm scheme and expectations for traceability. Your records, together with service provider records should allow full traceability (e.g. the ability to trace-back plant material on your farm to its source, including all seed and planting material, health testing specifics and authenticity records) and provide evidence of the surveillance and pest management practices undertaken on your property.

Auditable Quality Assurance schemes and achievement of membership to them, is beneficial in terms of biosecurity, market access, meeting specifications and customer expectations of food quality and food safety.

Hive biosecurity

Vegetable crops including cucumber, peas, pumpkin and zucchini benefit from pollination by honey bees. To ensure the vegetable industry (and others eg almonds) continue to benefit from honey bees, the risk of new pest introductions should be minimised through the implementation of good hive biosecurity measures.

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There are a number of bee and hive pests that are currently not in Australia, with the highest threat posed by Varroa mite. These pests could have serious impacts on the honey bee and pollination-dependent industries if they were to become established. Many of these pests are prevalent in neighbouring countries.

Work with your hive providers to implement good hive biosecurity measures, including monitoring for unusual bee behaviour, minimising contact with the hives and cleaning equipment and hives before moving between properties.

More honey bee biosecurity

Greenhouse facilities

Greenhouse, glasshouse and shade house facilities are commonly used in the production of vegetable seedlings and crops. The use of these facilities presents specific biosecurity threats, particularly due to the ideal breeding environment for many pests, close plantings, physical contact between plants and workers, and the green waste generated.

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If you have greenhouse or glasshouse facilities on your farm, the following measures should be implemented:

• Regularly monitor and control pests to ensure isolated populations do not spread throughout your farm.

• Pest monitoring should include the entire greenhouse structure, including gutters and covers.

• More than one pesticide should be used to limit the potential for the development of resistant insects.

• All waste material should be regularly removed and disposed of appropriately.

• Maintain weed-free or non-host vegetative barriers around the facilities.

• Always visit or work in houses with clean or young crops before entering contaminated, infested or older crops.