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

Biosecurity Farmer of the Year 2012

The Farm Biosecurity program is proud to sponsor this prestigious prize as part of the 2012 Australian Farmer of the Year Awards.

The Biosecurity Farmer of the Year is someone who has demonstrated initiative and motivation to address the potential risks to their business and livelihood. Finalists of the award demonstrate how better biosecurity can be integrated into the daily activities of enterprises without compromising efficiency.

And the winners are …

AHA CEO Mike Bond and Rod HoareRod Hoare, ‘Cadfor’, Binda NSW

Dr Rod Hoare runs 330 acre ‘Cadfor’ at Binda in the NSW Southern Tablelands with partner Helena Warren, where they breed Murray Grey cattle and run a horse riding school. Decades of experience working for the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) taught Dr Hoare to carefully plan for potential risks such as strangles, herpes viral abortion and resistant parasites at his equestrian centre. “Any biosecurity plan has to start with a very clear property plan – it’s difficult trying to modify it later,” Dr Hoare said. “One of the main things about our biosecurity strategy is that we have double fencing.”

He lists three important advantages to putting in double fences and tree lines, in addition to their aesthetic value:

  • A disease control advantage (preventing nose-to-nose contact, which can spread diseases like strangles or pestivirus)
  • A weed control advantage (trees and bushes can stop the spread of serrated tussock)
  • A managerial advantage (in keeping various groups of animals separate and creating usable laneways for moving stock and vehicles).


Greg Fraser and Steve RathjenSteve Rathjen, Murray Bridge SA

Mr Rathjen has been producing onions in the Murray Bridge and Bordertown regions of South Australia for many years. But his interest in biosecurity goes well beyond his farm gate, having been involved in biosecurity planning for the whole onion industry.

As President of Onions Australia from 2006-08, Mr Rathjen was involved in the development of the onion industry strategic plan, something he was very passionate about. He has been an Onion Industry Advisory Committee member for South Australia since 2008.

On his own property, Steve has dedicated farm vehicles and he uses signage to make sure visitors are aware of the need to adhere to biosecurity practices.

“Soil contamination on harvest bins is a well-known link in spreading the disease from growers to packing sheds, so it’s important that harvest bins are well maintained, cleaned thoroughly and do not leave the property,” said Mr Rathjen.


Meet the finalists


Bob Reed, Esperance WA

A proactive attitude and regional collaboration are the key planks in Bob Reed’s approach to tackling biosecurity threats.

Around 100km east of Esperance, Western Australia, Mr Reed runs a mixed farm incorporating cropping, sheep and cattle.

Concerned about the growing spread of ovine Johne’s disease (OJD) into Western Australia, Mr Reed brought the issue to the attention of his local Association for Sheep Husbandry, Excellence, Evaluation and Production (ASHEEP) Esperance group and was named head of its sub-committee on the disease. 


Ivan Rogers, ‘Kylagh’, Tammin WA

As a major supplier of cattle for live export, market access and product integrity are never far from Ivan Rogers’ mind.

Mr Rogers is the principal of Kylagh, a 4200ha mixed farming enterprise based at Tammin in Western Australia’s Western Wheatbelt, incorporating a feedlot which generates the majority of farm income. Making biosecurity central to all aspects of his cattle finishing business has seen him named as a finalist in the 2012 livestock Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award.



Rodney and Debbie Pohlner, Glenlee Vic

Farmers Rodney and Debbie Pohlner of Glenlee, north-west of Dimboola in the Wimmera region, were finalists in the plant biosecurity category of the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards.

Rodney Pohlner is a fourth generation farmer who owns and manages a 600 hectare property growing cereal oilseeds and pulses on rotation.

Rodney admits he has always been fussy. “I was brought up being told that what we now call biosecurity was good farming. So for me, it’s a habit of a lifetime,” he said.

Rodney had a number of drivers to implement on-farm biosecurity practices, including control of weeds, financial returns, and saving time and effort in the long run. With the family business built up over generations at stake, Rodney understands how hard it is to live with and manage pests and weeds. “Prevention is definitely the best strategy for me,” he said.


Harry, Greg and Adam Schwedes, Glenlee Vic

The other crop finalists were the Schwedes, three generations of farmers who own and jointly manage a 1,660 hectare property.

Harry Schwedes, who is 85-years-old, has been farming for 70 of those years. His son Greg and grandson Adam are enthusiastic farmers who see a bright future for themselves as grain growers. To ensure a successful future, all three are open to continued learning and emerging opportunities.

The combination of experience, the use of high-tech equipment and implementation of the latest research findings are paying off for them. Through their involvement in various technical and community groups, the Schwedes’ have been exposed to new thinking and are ‘early adopters’ of new ideas.

They also host National Variety Trials, which measure the performance of recently released grain and field crop varieties at sites across Australia.