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

Production practices

It makes good business sense to reduce the risk of spreading pests and diseases by implementing simple biosecurity measures as part of your every day farm management practice.

Get into the habit of regularly monitoring crops and livestock for signs of disease. Apply hygienic practices to managing feed and water sources, product packing, storage facilities, livestock husbandry and waste materials. The following recommendations provide very effective ways to minimise the risk of pests and diseases spreading on your property, between properties and in your region.


Water management

The management of water quality, including pest infestation levels, is important for the maintenance of healthy plants. If water sources become contaminated they can spread pests throughout production areas. Visit the Farm inputs page to find out more.

Farm chemicals

Use chemicals according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure they are effective, and to prevent build-up of resistance in pests and disease agents. Chemical residues can result in produce being rejected from export and domestic markets. In addition, most plant produce ends up being used as human food, even when fed to livestock, so inappropriate use or application of pesticides can pose a risk to human health, particularly through the presence of chemical residues. For more information visit the Farm inputs page.

Woman looking through magnifyerCrop surveillance

Regularly monitoring your crops gives you the best chance of identifying a new pest before it becomes established.

Check your farm, orchard or plantation frequently for the presence of new diseases, plant pests, weeds and unusual symptoms.

Make sure you are familiar with common diseases, pests and weeds so you can tell if you see something different.

To effectively put these practices in place:

  • establish an active monitoring program and record the results, even when nothing is found
  • fill out  a surveillance record sheet
  • identify the diseases, pests and weeds that are the target of surveillance before you begin
  • ensure that you and your staff are familiar with the usual diseases, pests and weeds found on your property, so that you will know if you see anything unusual
  • consult with neighbours on any pest issues, as it is likely that the problem doesn’t stop at your own property boundaries.

For more information visit the Pest surveillance page.

Product packing and storage

Farm, orchard and plantation produce can be stored on-farm for a number of reasons. However, incorrect storage of these products can provide an opportunity for pests and diseases to infest and ruin products.

Storage structures can also provide an excellent breeding ground for pests and diseases, which can then spread and infect other parts of your property.

Maintain an effective monitoring/pest management program.

  • A ‘spray diary’ record should accompany each consignment.
  • Collect and dispose of fallen or waste fruit and packing shed waste away from orchards and irrigation water sources.
  • Dispose of waste material appropriately, for example by burying, composting or through a dedicated waste management facility.
  • Load fruit onto trucks on a concrete or bitumen pad outside the production areas.
  • Ensure that no soil, plant material or insects are left adhering to, or remaining in bulk bins.

Moylan silos

Silo storage of grain

Grain storage has a number of specific biosecurity considerations. Frequent mis-use of insecticides and fumigants is causing the development of resistance in insects of stored grain. This has biosecurity implications, as live insects found in grain can jeopardise overseas and domestic markets.

Simple measures that can assist reduce the development of resistance include:

  • maintaining good hygiene around your storage areas, including making sure grain handling equipment like headers, augers, field bins, silos and bulk storages are cleaned out well before the next harvest as this will limit insect multiplication
  • separating the first grain to pass through harvesters at the start of each season as there is a high risk that it may contain storage pests
  • removing all grain residues to limit the areas where insects can survive and breed
  • pressure testing sealable silos and repairing any faulty rubber seals.

When using phosphine to control insects of stored grain:

  • always complete phosphine fumigations in sealable silos at the correct phosphine concentration and fumigation length of time – Be aware of the new Australian standard for sealable silos
  • keep records of your treatments in each sealable silo
  • conduct no more than three phosphine fumigations on any single parcel of grain
  • if you suspect resistance in insects of stored grain, please contact your nearest Department of Agriculture or Primary Industries entomology laboratory to have the insects tested (laboratory testing is the only way to determine whether insects are resistant to phosphine).

For more information about production practices, see the relevant industry page in the Crops section.

inspecting a cowLivestock

Stock monitoring

Introducing, moving and managing of livestock should be done in a way that minimises the risk of introducing or spreading infectious disease. You can prevent and control animal diseases on farm by regularly monitoring livestock health.

  • Assess the health status of your livestock and implement practices that will protect them from known diseases already in your region.
  • Ensure all personnel responsible for the management and husbandry of livestock are aware of the importance of early detection and reporting of animals exhibiting signs of unusual sickness or deaths.
  • Ensure all staff know what to do in the event of a suspected emergency animal disease. If you spot anything unusual call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
  • Increase the frequency of inspections of livestock during periods of higher risk, such as known disease events, increased insect and wildlife activity or growing periods for weeds.
  • For livestock that leave and return to the property (eg following shows, agistment, contract joining) assess their vulnerability to infection, hygiene arrangements and contact with other livestock while away. If needed, separate, observe and treat the animals before returning them to companions.
  • Inspect and maintain adequate boundary fences.
  • Keep vulnerable stock away from livestock of unknown health status.
  • Seek early advice from a veterinarian or government officer in relation to any unusual sickness or death.

Soil fertility

Manure and waste management

Effluent, waste and dead animals harbour large quantities of disease causing bacteria.

  • Select disposal areas to avoid the potential spread of contaminants by water.
  • Dispose of carcasses and waste in a segregated area, where possible, taking into account environmental and public considerations.
  • Ensure controls for the potential spread of disease from effluent are in place.
  • Use vegetation in plantations or windbreaks to reduce effluent transfer.
  • Ensure government requirements for carcase, effluent and waste management are adhered to where appropriate.
  • Dispose of carcases as soon as practical in a way that takes into account environmental and public considerations.
  • Manage effluent dispersal to minimise disease spread through the contamination of pastures, stockfeed and water.

Young man injecting sheep

Vaccination and drenching

Keep a record of all your animal health activities and treatments, such as vaccination and drenching, to maintain the history of your herd or flock health history  and identify any changes.

Ensure all personnel working on-farm are vaccinated for identified risk diseases (eg Q Fever and tetanus) and, where necessary, vaccinate livestock against zoonotic (animal to human) diseases (eg leptospirosis).

Fences and yards

Broken or missing fences can allow your stock to mix with the neighbours’ stock or with wild animals, or for animals (and even people) to enter cropping areas, heightening the risks of introducing diseases, pests and weeds.

  • Inspect all yard and perimeter fences regularly to ensure their integrity.
  • Maintain buffer distances, and where possible use double fencing between neighbouring properties.
  • Work with your neighbours to solve any boundary fencing issues.