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

Top 5 biosecurity tips for hosting research trials

September 15, 2017
Field trial and vehicles

Secure your farm: manage the biosecurity risks posed by researchers and their vehicles entering your property.

Research sites and field work are a fundamental part of agricultural research: after all, they turn ideas into new farming practices.

However, researchers should be made aware of the farm biosecurity risks associated with conducting field research and demonstrations, and the measures that you would like them to use to minimise those risks.

Two of the main risks of not asking researchers to implement biosecurity measures are:

  • introducing an unwanted plant pest to the field site
  • spreading pests to other research sites and properties.

Managing these risks by ensuring compliance to good biosecurity practice is simple will safeguard everyone involved in conducting and hosting field research.

Top 5 field research biosecurity tips

1. Have a detailed ‘contractual agreement’ with the researchers

Make sure the agreement includes:

  • the practices that will be used to safeguard the property
  • any declared pests, quarantined areas or other things on the property that should be avoided or might need extra vigilance
  • notifying you or the farm manager as they enter and leave the site
  • a designated parking area for researchers’ vehicles
  • asking researchers to use the farm’s vehicles or to wash vehicles as they enter and leave the site
  • a farm map with designated roadways to the trial site.

2. Employ a ‘keep it clean’ policy for on-farm research

  • Apply this to vehicles, machinery, footwear, clothing, equipment and tools
  • Have farm wash down facilities available and ask that vehicles and equipment are clean before entering and when moving to the next property
  • Ensure policies and state quarantine regulations are followed to deal with analysis and disposal of plant matter or soil (particularly if moving material between states).

3. Make sure that every researcher complies with your requests

  • Research staff are more likely to understand the risks and comply with requests if they are involved in conversations and decisions about managing the biosecurity risks related to their work on your farm.
  • Review, evaluate and update biosecurity practices or protocols for field work to ensure they remain relevant to the current trial.

4. Consider the location of the field site

  • If possible, locate it near an access road to reduce the need for on-site vehicle movement. The location is even more important if field demonstrations are associated with a trial.

5. Ask that they carry a vehicle biosecurity kit at all times.

The contents of a vehicle biosecurity kit include items for keeping hands, equipment and vehicle interior free of plant debris and pests. (More information about biosecurity kits)

Researcher looking at crop

Some field trials involve growing new crop varieties and testing them against attack by pathogens. Make sure these pathogens don’t become established on your property by asking researchers about their plans to prevent that from happening.

What do researchers risk by not considering farm biosecurity?

  • Your reluctance to take part in future trials.
  • Introducing a new pest to an area, along the possible long-term control and management issues.
  • Negative feedback about their organisation.
  • Breaching their biosecurity responsibility and ‘duty of care’.

Become biosecurity aware when hosting research – remember you are at the forefront of good biosecurity practice.

If you need help to create a biosecurity plan, identify biosecurity risks or sourcing equipment or material to mitigate risks, contact a Grains Biosecurity Officer or the Livestock Biosecurity Network.

If you see anything unusual, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881 or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.

Acknowledgement: This article is based on information included in a fact sheet created by the Grains Farm Biosecurity Program