Good biosecurity practices are important at every step of product management, from ensuring clean planting and propagating material to responsible use of chemicals on trees and safe disposal of waste fruit and plant material.
Planting and propagating material
Use only clean planting and propagation material (ie tested with no pest detections). Obtain these only from nurseries that will provide you with reliable records of the material’s source and testing history.
You cannot visually assess the health of your planting material. Viruses, viroids and phytoplasmas will not display symptoms under some circumstances.
To minimise the risk:
• Purchase plant material only from a nursery that takes biosecurity, hygiene, health testing and record keeping seriously.
• Check your nursery and planting material thoroughly.
• Maintain a register of your orchard’s propagation material, including its source (with contact details), cultivar/ rootstock combinations, specific planting locations, numbers of plants and date planted.
• Request information on the source of budwood, mother tree health testing regime and timetable, location of foundation material of new imports and the Quality Assurance scheme or certification status of the nursery and the planting material.
Notice for papaya growers:
Purchase locally sourced seed as seed from overseas or unknown sources carries a higher risk. Any quantity of imported seed or nursery stock requires an import permit. If sourcing propagation material from overseas see the Department of Agriculture BICON website for import conditions.
Chemical residues on fruit produce can result in rejection from export and domestic markets, particularly as these residues can pose a risk to human health. Appropriate training and advice on the safe use of pesticides should be obtained prior to chemical control of pests and always follow label regulations and withholding periods. Don’t put your livelihood or the industry at risk through poor or illegal practice.
In most states and territories, growers and contractors who apply pesticides must complete an accredited chemical training course (for example ChemCert or SMARTtrain) to gain the appropriate knowledge base on the safe use of pesticides and the legal requirements.
Details about regulations for agricultural and veterinary chemicals can be obtained from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA; www.apvma.gov.au ) or from relevant state agencies. Consult these sources frequently for information regarding chemical regulations as these may change.
Waste fruit and plant material
Maintaining good orchard and nursery hygiene can minimise cross-contamination and breeding environments for pests. This should be achieved in combination with an effective monitoring/pest management program.
A ‘spray diary’ record should accompany each consignment of fruit and nut produce.
Collect all plant waste and dispose of it away from nursery and orchard areas and water sources. Appropriate disposal mechanisms for plant waste include deep burial (away from production areas), burning or hot composting.
Ensure that no soil, plant material or insects are left adhering to vehicles, bins, and other equipment (including hand tools) used for the harvesting of fruit.
Biosecurity and quality assurance
If your orchard or the nursery providing your trees is accredited (ie maintains a Quality Assured scheme such as ISO 9000, SQF 2000, NIASA, Freshcare or Woolworths Quality Assurance Scheme), it is likely that some fundamental techniques of biosecurity best practice are already being applied.
Ensure that your scheme and your records allow full traceability. That is, the ability to trace-back plant material on your orchard to its source (including the budwood sources, health testing and authenticity records), and to trace forward plant material or produce that has left your property.
Records of surveillance and pest management practices should also be undertaken on your property. Auditable Quality Assurance schemes and achievement of membership to them, is beneficial in terms of biosecurity, market access, meeting specifications and customer expectations, and food safety.
Good hive biosecurity practices minimise the risk of new pest introductions to the Australian honey bee industry. These measures provide benefits to beekeepers and protect the honey and pollination-dependant industries.
There are a number of bee and hive pests currently exotic to Australia that have the potential to severely impact on the honey bee and pollination-dependant industries if they were to become established. Many of these pests are prevalent in neighbouring countries.
The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC), as the peak industry body, has a focus on protecting beekeepers and their hives through sound biosecurity practices. For more information visit www.honeybee.org.au or call 02 9221 0911.
Bee and hive threats
The Australian honey bee industry currently faces several key biosecurity threats. The highest threat is Varroa mite (Varroa destructor and V. jacobsoni), which is carried on Asian and European honey bees in countries to the immediate north (Papua New Guinea) and east of Australia (New Zealand). Varroa mites feed on both adult and broodbees, weakening them and allowing other bee pathogens to spread within the colony. Infestation ultimately results in deformed bees, early death of individual bees and slow death of the honey bee colony unless control measures are applied.
Other threats include:
• Tracheal mite: Infestations result in sick bees that do not work as hard or live as long as healthy bees. The mite spreads from bee to bee, hive to hive and is difficult to detect.
• Tropilaelaps clarae mite: This parasite causes brood death or shortened life span for any bees that survive to adulthood.
All of these pests can easily spread to feral bees, causing significant colony losses and therefore reducing pollination for fruit crops. The application of biosecurity measures in managed hives also addresses pests already established in Australia, such as the Small hive beetle, American foulbrood and the European foulbrood of honey bees.
Increasing hive biosecurity
There are a number of things that you can do to improve your orchard biosecurity and to help safeguard Australia’s fruit and honey bee industries.
Check the health of any bees purchased (get a vendor declaration to define the health status).
Consider hive placement and what pests might be at a new location.
Specifically check for Varroa mite, Tracheal mite and Asian honey bee.
Position hives to limit the transfer of pests from hive to hive.
Consider the stress placed on bees that are regularly moved.
Avoid placing hives in proximity of rubbish tips or where birds are fed honey.
Avoid the placement of hives near abandoned hives or abandoned orchards.
Avoid contact of livestock with the hives.
Regularly inspect bees for unusual behaviour.
Isolate captured swarms for six months to ensure their health and that they are free from pests.
Fruit producers should:
Ensure all orchard and hive equipment have been cleaned between uses.
Wash and disinfect hands when moving between hives.
Ensure boots and clothing are free from plant material, soil, insects and other pests before entering and leaving orchards or handling hives.
Minimise the number of people that visit hives.
Prevent vehicles from driving in close proximity to the hives.
Secure honey stores and equipment so robbing bees cannot gain access.
Check reasons for poor fruit set to see if low numbers of bees may have caused poor pollination.
Report anything unusual to the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline or the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline.