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

Peter and Sandra Young

Sunshine Coast shines light on better biosecurity

Peter and Sandra Young’s holistic approach to biosecurity has rendered them champions of the Australian agricultural industry and finalists in this years inaugural Australian Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Awards.

On-farm biosecurity protects livelihoods, industries and communities. This is a major reason why it has long been at the forefront of operations at the Sunshine Coast’s Birdwood Nursery Fruit Trees.

Birdwood Nursery Fruit Trees is a production nursery situated on 60 acres in Woombye, Queensland. The nursery was initially purpose built by owners Peter and Sandra to produce avocado trees tested free from root rot disease (Phytophthora cinnamomi).

The Australian Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Awards, held last September and proudly supported by Plant Health Australia (PHA), promoted an up-to-the-minute, positive image of farmers while recognising producers who inspire other farmers and encourage investment in Australian agriculture.

Peter and Sandra’s commitment to improving biosecurity practices on their property demonstrates a significant return for their efforts and highlights the fact that biosecurity makes good business sense. Following their lead, it is hoped that others too will see the value of implementing good biosecurity practices on their properties and to find out more about what can be done to manage pest, disease and weed threats.

Birdwood Nursery started operations during 1978, when Peter identified a need across the horticultural industries for high-quality, disease-free fruit trees.  Peter and Sandra commenced growing all tree stock under the Avocado Nursery Voluntary Accreditation Scheme (ANVAS), in which they were foundation members. The couple has since attained accreditation from the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia and EcoHort Certification. During 2009, Peter and Sandra introduced biocontrol agents to the nursery to augment their integrated pest management system.

Weekly releases of beneficial insects are having profound effects, reducing chemical and labour costs, while their working environment has dramatically improved and staff efficiencies and attitudes have changed. Peter and Sandra aim to completely replace chemical insecticides with bio-control agents in their greenhouses to dramatically decrease their environmental footprint.

Peter and Sandra’s commitment to good biosecurity practices shows that protecting your property, no matter what your industry, doesn’t have to be difficult.  It can be as simple as displaying pamphlets containing information relating to new pests and diseases on your notice boards, such as those continually displayed at Birdwood Nursery. Peter and Sandra also encourage their staff to keep a lookout for new disease symptoms and signs of pests. Management is informed if anything unusual is spotted by staff and the incident is immediately reported to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Another simple biosecurity measure implemented on Peter and Sandra’s property is ensuring that designated visitor parking areas are provided and no unauthorized vehicles are allowed to enter the growing areas. The loading surfaces of vehicles are also disinfected before use, an easy biosecurity measure that may be undertaken on anyone’s property, regardless of which industry you belong to.

If you’d like to learn more about implementing simple biosecurity measures on your property, feel free to take a look at the Biosecurity Manual for the Nursery Production Industry, recently developed by PHA and Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA). The manual has been designed to assist nursery producers and the industry from new and invasive pests by offering them six simple routine biosecurity practices.