For Joy Paech, the motivation for good biosecurity practices is simple – do things right now so you do not have bigger problems down the track.
Joy, her husband Trevor and sons Tyson and Steen, together with two employees, run Inglebrae Holdings and Paech Bros in South Australia.
They have farms at Callington and Palmer, with a total of 5500 hectares of dryland cropping, mainly cereals, canola, field peas, lupins and some domestic oaten hay. They also run about 3000 sheep.
Biosecurity was not always a high priority for Joy, but over the years she has come to realise that it pays to be proactive. The enterprise is now run with biosecurity measures built into everyday management practices to guard against costly work later.
The family has two main farms, with additional blocks and paddocks spread out around the area that pose particular biosecurity issues.
“We don’t take on any new share farming or lease paddocks that have a weed that we don’t already have,” Joy says.
To stop new weeds, pests or diseases being brought in by visitors, each block has a farm biosecurity sign at the entrance. “We’ve got about 20 signs in all, asking people to contact us before they go beyond the gate.”
Joy says that as well as discouraging unauthorised access, the signs raise awareness of the potential biosecurity risks that visitors bring.
A major tactic for reducing the chance of introducing new pests is to produce the feed they need themselves. As Joy says: “It’s simple. If you don’t buy in hay or grain you don’t buy in problems. So it’s worth the effort to grow seed ourselves. We use clean paddocks and take the trouble to keep it clean.”
The family keeps a two-year supply of feed and seed on-farm. “That way we’re right, even in drought. We only bring seed in if we want to try a new variety, and then we only get certified clean seed.”
They manage farm hygiene with a dedicated wash-down area to keep vehicles and equipment clean, and ensure that areas around sheds, silos and bins are, for the most part, weed-free.
Livestock can pose particular biosecurity challenges. To avoid spreading weeds, the weed status of each paddock is considered before moving stock between areas. “Identify and be aware of the risk in each paddock,” Joy recommends.
The family previously drove around the paddocks with stock agents to inspect stock. Now they bring stock into their yards to reduce the risk of spreading problems from one area to another.
“We’re lucky we have no really nasty weed species,” Joy says. “Although there is some ryegrass, wild radish and a bit of caltrop that was introduced into a small holding paddock prior to us purchasing it. We are controlling the ryegrass and wild radish through crop and chemical-group rotations, together with a small amount of domestic hay-making for some of the ryegrass issues. In some of our dedicated grazing paddocks we spot-spray for control of horehound.”
Looking ahead, Joy has plans for improvements. Given the large amount of grain kept on-farm, she’s concerned about the possibility of stored-grain pests becoming resistant to phosphine, so an investment in gas-tight storage is being considered.
Joy’s advice is to keep informed, and she credits her membership of the Strathalbyn-based Rural Women’s Group and her local Agricultural Bureau for helping her to keep up-to-date.
Article reproduced with the permission of GRDC