What is weed hygiene?
January 29th, 2014
Weeds pose serious threats to Queensland’s economy, industries, natural resources and human welfare. Biosecurity Queensland identifies the worst pests as ‘declared weeds’ in order to control and restrict their spread.
Weed hygiene is arguably the most effective form of weed control - weed seed spread can be prevented by effectively inspecting, identifying and cleaning vehicles, equipment and loads.
So what’s the big deal about vehicle and equipment hygiene?
Vehicles and equipment can carry a range of weed seeds
University of Queensland (UQ) researchers estimate that there could be as many as 400 viable weed seeds even on a small vehicle (Steve Adkins, UQ presentation at the Queensland Weed Symposium, 2013).
Legislative requirements directly affect your operations
The Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 regulates the movement of potentially contaminated materials and provides mechanisms to help prevent weed seed spread by livestock, products, soil, vehicles, machinery and other vectors.
Under section 45 of the Act:
- products contaminated with Class 1 pests cannot be sold
- products contaminated with Class 2 pests may not be sold unless their presence is declared to the purchaser via a written notice
- reasonable steps are to be taken to ensure that vehicles are clean and that loads are secured prior to moving or transporting the vehicle or thing by road.
Hefty penalties apply for non-compliance with the Act.
When working on behalf of a resource authority on private land, the Land Access Code 2010 also imposes an obligation on you to prevent the spread of declared pests. Specifically, section 15 requires that you:
- take all reasonable steps to ensure that activities do not spread the reproductive material of a declared pest and
- wash down vehicles and machinery before entering a landholder’s land, if the risk of spreading a declared pest is likely to be reduced by the washing down and
- carry a record of the wash down, ready to provide the landholder with a copy upon request.
Protect your interests with effective weed hygiene procedures
Weed Hygiene Declarations meet the legislative requirements of a ‘written notice’ under the Act:
- Part 1 may be used to inform people about the potential contamination of a ‘thing’ before they receive it (this includes things such as fodder, grain, gravel, machinery, mulch, packing material, sand, soil, stock, vehicles and water).
- Part 2 may be used to demonstrate the steps you have taken to restrict the spread of declared pests and other weeds via the movement of vehicles and loads.
Records of wash downs should be maintained for at least 5 years.
Companies that fail to implement effective weed hygiene procedures risk their reputation as well as open themselves up to litigation, damage and compensation claims for any potential breach of their obligations.
Can you afford not to wash down? What hygiene procedures does your company have in place?