Biosecurity – simple things make a big difference
Australia is known to be one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to biosecurity. Being a whopping big island certainly has its advantages.
Despite best efforts of AQIS and other agencies, sometimes things slip through the net. While there’s little we can do on-farm about things coming in to the country, there are a few simple, low-cost (or free) things on-farm which can be done to reduce the risks of a pest or disease affecting your plants or livestock. Some common Biosecurity risk factors on farm include:
Restrict visitor vehicles to non-production areas. Vehicles can carry spores, seeds and pests so don’t let them near paddocks, stock, animals or other areas you want to keep weed and disease free.
If you’re permitting a vehicle into production areas, give it a good wash from the top down with a high-pressure washer to get rid of seeds and spores. Of course, do this in an area where the water run off won’t get into waterways or production areas.
Seeds and spores can be carried on clothing and in shoe treads including dirt and mud stuck to shoes. If someone is going into production areas, have them use a footbath to properly scrub and disinfect shoes. You might ask them to wear overalls or other PPE such as shoe covers.
New livestock should be put in a quarantine paddock, well away from existing stock for 21-28 days and monitored. If you can, keep this paddock close to the main entrance so you can unload from transport into the assigned paddock without having the truck driving through other production areas. Of course, keep the NLIS database up to date.
Keep an eye on all livestock for signs of illness or disease. Watch for:
- a lot of ill or dead animals including birds or aquatic animals
- rapid spread of disease through a herd or flock
- animals that are lame, drooling or salivating excessively
- animals that have ulcers, erosions or blisters around the feet, muzzle, udder or teats and/or in the mouth
- unusual nervous signs
- respiratory distress or persistent coughing in horses
- deep smelly, fly struck wounds
- any unusual or unfamiliar disease in animals, birds or aquatic animals
Watch out for strays as well – hopefully they don’t bring problems with them.
Look for things such as unusual wilting, discolouration or staining. Watch for things like beetles, snails, flies, larvae, or fungal growth. Some plants could look like they have died and browned.
As your crops grow, an inspection every now and then will help you spot and manage any changes. Unusual weeds should be recorded and reported as well.
Feed and other supplies
Know where your feed and other supplies are coming from. Make sure you get the vendor declaration paperwork when feed and supplies arrive on your property. Keep new feed and supplies stored appropriately, separating from existing supplies if possible.
If you see something that doesn’t look right, get some advice.
For animals, contact your vet or call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline in 1800 675 888
For plants, your local agronomist could help, or contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881
More information head to:
- Farm Biosecurity website
- Plant Health Australia website
- Department of Agriculture website
- Animal Health Australia website
COVID is a hot topic in all industries. For some practical advice on managing it in Agriculture, find out how Regional Workplaces are encouraged to improve their COVID-19 Safety.
Originally published 20 July, 2020.