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

Plant award finalists show biosecurity is essential for growth

August 31, 2012

Plant Health Australia would like to congratulate the Biosecurity Farmer of the Year (plant) finalists who are now in the running to win the prestigious Australian Farmer of the Year Award.

Rodney Pohlner, Harry Schwedes and family, (both from Glenlee, Victoria) and Steve Rathjen (Murraylands, South Australia) have been recognised as outstanding entrants in the national award.

Rodney Pohlner at the gateRodney Pohlner – Victoria
Rodney Pohlner is a fourth generation farmer who currently owns and manages a 600 hectare property in the locality of Glenlee, which is north west of Horsham in Victoria’s Wimmera agricultural region.

Rodney grows varying amounts and rotations of wheat, barley, canola, beans and lentils. The rotations are employed for weed and disease control, soil fertility improvements and to maximise income.

Many of his on-farm biosecurity practices are used to manage endemic pests. He is involved in numerous community groups to raise awareness and works closely with the DPI and industry to ensure biosecurity practices are followed at a variety of levels, not just on his farm.

Schwedes family and signHarry, Greg and Adam Schwedes – Victoria
Harry, Greg and Adam Schwedes are three generations of farmers who currently own and jointly manage a 2,500 hectare property in Glenlee.

The Schwedes grow wheat, barley, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, lentils, lupins, field peas and vetch on rotation. Farming techniques are based on proven biosecurity principles, but years of experience are also invaluable in their efforts to combat pests and weeds.

The Schwedes know that integrating biosecurity practices into daily life can be done easily and cheaply while also protecting their business in the long run. Their policy is to act quickly and attempt to eradicate new pest arrivals because they know that living with an established pest is difficult and costly.

Steve Rathjen – South Australia
Steve Rathjen is a fourth generation farmer who has been producing onions in the Murray Bridge and Bordertown regions of South Australia for many years.

Basic on-farm biosecurity practices are standard on the property with gate signs and restricted entry enforced. He has dedicated vehicles and farm equipment, ensuring that they are regularly cleaned to maintain a high level of on-farm hygiene.

Steve has introduced a range of environmentally sound alternatives to standard IPM. He has also been a participant in the Onion Mallee Stunt research and development project, including hosting field trials.

Hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, and sponsored by Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia, the Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award (plant) is part of the Australian Farmer of the year awards. It recognises the efforts of producers dedicated to keeping their operations free of diseases, pests and weeds.

All winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on September 12 in Melbourne.