Biosecurity management: detecting biosecurity risks

Why is it important to detect potential biosecurity outbreaks?

Weeds and pests can sometimes spread despite the most stringent of prevention measures. Early detection is critical to ensure the best chance of eradication. Once weeds and pests become established, eradication may not be physically or economically viable hence requiring costly long term management.

So what’s the key to detecting weed, pest and disease issues?

Everyone has a role to play in the early detection and eradication of weeds. The more ‘calibrated eyes’ the better… everyone involved within your operations should be trained in the importance of preventing, detecting and reporting biosecurity issues. Staff should be encouraged to report potential sightings and these should be documented and promptly investigated.

Routine surveys

Regular property weed surveys can help to prevent the establishment and spread of weeds. They can also provide the basis for mapping and recording vital baseline information. Surveys can focus on likely weed areas such as waterways, tracks, disturbed areas and sites adjacent to known weed and pest infestations.

More detailed surveys can also be conducted to further document the extent of existing biosecurity issues and identify new and emerging threats. Isolated weeds should be marked on your map as points whereas you can map the boundary of larger infestations and indicate weed density, plant health and maturity within the area. The extent, nature and impact of pest issues can also be readily mapped to determine changes over time. Desired survey frequency depends on the type of property, core activities, risks and any specific compliance requirements you may have.

Reactive inspections

Reactive inspections should be undertaken seasonally and following significant fire, flood and rainfall events. Priority should be given to high risk areas where there is potential for weed germination or pest animal habitat. Sites may include disturbed areas, drains, culverts, roadside verges, livestock and wildlife watering holes, feeding sites and the high flood mark within flood zones.


The actual or suspected presence of any priority weed, pest animal or alert disease should be notified to appropriate agencies and stakeholders as required. Early detection, notification and containment can help to minimise the impact of a potential weed or pest outbreak. Whilst coordinated and collaborative solutions often bring about the best approach to containment and control.

Further planning

Once rapid response measures have been implemented, it’s important that further planning is undertaken to address the source of the weed or pest and the long-term management required to contain, control and eradicate the problem.

What practical measures do you have in place to detect biosecurity risks that have the potential to threaten your operations?