Biosecurity: we all have a responsibility
Biosecurity is the management of the risk of pests and diseases entering, emerging, establishing or spreading, in order to avoid production losses and new management and eradication costs.
Australia has a world class biosecurity system, however with increased international trade and people movements, there will always be a risk of new plant pests entering the country. While pests can also be spread to Australia through natural means such as wind and water currents.
Critically, biosecurity measures allow growers to preserve existing trade opportunities and provide evidence of Australia’s pest and animal disease status to support access to international markets.
Everyone has a responsibility when it comes to biosecurity. Previous changes in QLD and in NSW biosecurity legislation make the obligation to take reasonable and practical steps to prevent or minimise biosecurity much more explicit.
What do you need to know?
Biosecurity is a shared responsibility between those in the community, including growers, consultants, contractors, industry members and visitors. Each person needs to play their part to reduce the likelihood of spreading pests, weeds and diseases.
Defending your farm
Growers play a key role in protecting Australia's plant and livestock industries from pests and diseases by implementing sound biosecurity measures on-farm. Implementing strong biosecurity measures on your farm will help protect your enterprise and the broader industry from the introduction and spread of endemic and exotic insects, weeds and diseases.
If a new pest or disease becomes established on your farm, it will affect your business through increased costs (for monitoring, changes in production practice, additional chemical use and labour), reduced productivity (in yield and/or quality) or loss of markets. Early detection and immediate reporting increases the chance of effective and efficient eradication.
Key biosecurity targets
All farm personnel, consultants, contractors and visitors should be made aware of farm biosecurity requirements. Clear communication is critical to ensuring biosecurity plans operate effectively.
Instructions posted on strategically located signage are a useful tool to inform and remind farm workers and visitors about biosecurity protocols. All farm personnel, consultants, and contractors should be briefed on action to be taken in the event of identifying unusual pests or plant symptoms or a potential exotic pest, disease or weed.
Regular monitoring of crops for the presence of pests (eg. insects, mites, nematodes, pathogens (diseases) and weeds) or associated symptoms increases the likelihood of early detection of unwelcome intruders.
Ratoon and volunteer cotton:
Ratoon (regrowth/stub cotton) and volunteer (plants that have germinated and established unintentionally) cotton plants are a biosecurity risk. They harbour pests, carrying them from season to season and providing an inoculum source for early re-infection of the following year’s crop. They are also a potential point of establishment for new pest and disease outbreaks.
Destruction of ratoons and volunteers outside the field (on roadways, head ditches etc) may be a costly exercise, but the costs resulting from not dealing with them may be far greater.
Vehicles, machinery and equipment:
Vehicles and equipment such as harvesters, sprayers, seeders, balers, augers, field bins and tractors can carry soil and plant material containing pests, especially weeds, to other areas or other farms. While it is impractical to stop all traffic movement on and off the farm, the biosecurity risk can be reduced by diligently enforcing Come Clean Go Clean protocols.
So, what should you do on your farm?
- Ensure all farm personnel, consultants, contractors and visitors are made aware of farm biosecurity requirements.
- Monitor crops and fields regularly for signs of pests and disease, particularly any new or unusual insects, weed species or plant symptoms.
- Ensure all farm personnel, consultants, contractors and visitors are aware of the action to be taken in the event if identifying unusual pests or plant symptoms. If you spot anything unusual, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.
- Remove all cotton volunteers and ratoon plants from all cropping and no-cropping areas to reduce carryover of pests and diseases.
- Create a plan considering your farm’s biosecurity risks, and implement measures to manage risk, including signage and parking areas for all farm visitors, appropriate washdown facilities, using farm vehicles to transport visitors around the farm, and arrangements with suppliers/contractors to ensure crop inputs, machinery and equipment are ‘clean’ before they are brought on to the farm.
- Follow Come Clean Go Clean:
- Wash down vehicles. Park on a clean wash pad where contaminants can be trapped.
- Apply compressed air or a high pressure water to all surfaces to remove trash and mud, being sure to get into crevices. Don’t forget to clean out the inside of the car, vehicle foot pedals and other surfaces that have come into contact with dirty footwear.
- Apply an agricultural detergent liberally to all surfaces to assist with soil removal from machinery and vehicles. Leave the detergent to work for 10 minutes and then rinse unless directed otherwise by the label.
- Apply an agricultural decontaminant to your farm biosecurity plan to ensure that wash down procedures are thorough. Follow label instructions on usage.
- Rinse off your wash down product. Clean all the mud off the pad with high pressure water so it is clean for the next person and that mud and debris isn’t picked up by wet tyres.
- Where equipment has not been cleaned down on farm, thoroughly inspect to ensure cleanliness.
For more information on biosecurity visit the myBMP Biosecurity module.
Where should you go for more information?
Sharna Holman - Technical Lead, Biosecurity
Mobile: 0477 394 116
- Farm Biosecurity Manual for the Cotton Industry (Farm Biosecurity)
- CottonInfo fact sheet: Come Clean Go Clean
- CottonInfo case study: Come Clean Go Clean stops weed spread at St George
- Cotton Pest Management Guide
- CottonInfo fact sheet: Managing ratoons and volunteers
- CottonInfo fact sheet: Researchers and Extension Officers: What’s your biosecurity responsibility?
- CottonInfo fact sheet: Starting the on-farm biosecurity conversation
- Poster: Come Clean Go Clean
- Poster: Exotic Cotton Pests
- Cotton Symptoms Guide
- Pests and Beneficials in Australian Cotton Landscapes
- Farm Biosecurity Action Planner (Farm Biosecurity): tool to assess and address biosecurity risks on farm.
- myBMP cotton biosecurity checklist