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

Plant biosecurity winner leading defence against myrtle rust

June 28, 2012

Sandra and Peter Young with awardThe winner of last year’s plant Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award, Peter Young from Birdwood Nursery, is encouraging other plant producers to nominate for the 2012 awards, which are currently open for nominations.

Mr Young’s business keeps going from strength the strength. Earlier this year, Birdwood was proud to become the first fruit tree nursery in Australia to win the Nursery and Garden Industry Award (NGIA) for large nurseries, after being runner-up in the category for two years.

“I think that receiving the biosecurity award helped us across the line this year for the NGIA award,” said Mr Young. “It’s been a busy year for us since winning the awards, not least because of the myrtle rust incursion.”

Having already established sound biosecurity practices in their nursery, the Youngs were quick to recognise the risks from myrtle rust and to respond. They were well placed; most of the measures suggested by the industry to prevent myrtle rust apply to any fungal disease, so it has meant very few changes to the Young’s biosecurity regime.

The establishment of myrtle rust along the east coast of Australia has had a big impact on some plant producers, but the nursery and garden industry has felt it more than most. The industry in Queensland in particular is actively promoting biosecurity practices as a way of minimising the impact of the disease on its members.

“The broad range of plants produced in nurseries means that the industry was one of the first to feel its presence,” said Mr Young.

Because of its sound biosecurity record, Peter Young’s Birdwood Nursery was selected as the site to film a video by NGIA.

“I was pleased to be able to inform other nurseries about myrtle rust, how to distinguish it from the many other pests in nurseries, and how to manage it,” said Mr Young.

“Myrtle rust is here to stay, but there are things that can be done to minimise the risk. Apart from avoiding susceptible plants, the area around the nursery should be surveyed for the presence of native plants that are susceptible to the disease, which can act as a source of spores that can be blown on the wind to infect nursery stock,” he said.

Mr Young is keen to warn growers of the risks related to clothing. “Fungal spores can easily be carried on clothing, but sometimes obvious things can be overlooked, like hats, which tend to be worn every day and not washed so much,” he said.

Sponsored by Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia, the Biosecurity Farmer of the Year award is hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural. It recognises the efforts of producers dedicated to keeping their operations free of diseases, pests and weeds.

Winners of the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards will be announced at a celebratory dinner in Melbourne on 12 September 2012. To nominate yourself or someone else, visit or contact Kondinin on 1800 677 761. Nominations close on 3 August 2012.