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

Grains biosecurity advice to improve on-farm biosecurity

April 2, 2013

Louise Rossiter cleaning uteGrains farmers in Australia are fortunate to have access to biosecurity advice specifically for their industry from Grains Farm Biosecurity Officers in each of the main grain growing states. Officers can work one-on-one with grains producers to devise biosecurity plans that reduce risks posed by pests, weeds and diseases.

According to Jim Moran, the Victorian Grains Biosecurity Officer, it can be challenging, if not a little overwhelming for producers to know where to start. That’s a major reason why the Grains Biosecurity Program was established and why the Biosecurity Manual for Grain Producers was developed.

“Reviewing current hygiene practices and making a biosecurity plan for your property is a vital first step in protecting your farm against unwanted and debilitating incursions,” said Mr Moran. “The expectation is not that improvements happen overnight, instead it’s about getting the ball rolling, a self assessment checklist – there’s one in the manual – and clearly communicating your approach to staff, family and visitors to ensure you have your business in the best possible place should something happen.”

NSW Department of Primary Industries Grains Biosecurity Officer, Louise Rossiter, said that many people think of biosecurity as something that happens at borders to keep pests out of Australia, but that farmers have most control at their farm gate when it comes to keeping out undesirable incursions.

“A simple biosecurity plan which involves identifying possible risks and how they can be best managed can save time and money for grain growers,” Dr Rossiter said.

“Unwanted weeds can be brought in with seed and grain – buying certified grain or dealing with trusted sources can greatly reduce the risk.”

“Farm visitors, contractors and vehicles can also introduce and spread weeds, pests and diseases – a ‘come clean, go clean’ policy can help address that risk.”

Dr Rossiter said farmers could support a ‘come clean, go clean’ initiative with the appropriate farm infrastructure. “A basic wash down area can be used to reduce the risk and designated parking areas can be easily inspected to help ensure no new weeds are introduced and allowed to spread undetected,” she said.

“A simple biosecurity sign with contact details located at the property entrance, farm office or a central meeting point can help manage visitors to the farm.”

Dr Rossiter advised growers to start with the greatest risks and the most easily implemented management actions.

“In time other measures can be introduced and built into the plan, which will allow gradual and continual improvement in protecting your farm.”

The Grains Farm Biosecurity Program is an initiative to improve the management of, and preparedness for, biosecurity risks in the grains industry at the farm and industry levels. Launched in 2007, the Grains Farm Biosecurity Program is managed by Plant Health Australia and funded by growers through Grain Producers Australia together with the New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian, Victorian and Western Australian governments.

Biosecurity is an important component of effective farm management. As Jim Moran puts it, “Growers have invested too much time, money and effort into their enterprises and into their industry to not effectively address biosecurity risks.”

For assistance in developing a farm biosecurity plan, producers should contact their local Grains Biosecurity Officer.

State Grains Biosecurity Officer Phone
NSW Rachel Taylor-Hukins 0409 945 069
Qld Kym McIntyre 0429 727 690
SA Judy Bellati 0412 218 228
Vic Jim Moran 0418 377 930
WA Jeff Russell 0447 851 801