Practical ways to manage your biosecurity risks

Protecting interests with a Weed Warning SignVehicle, machinery and equipment can inadvertently pick up weeds, pests and diseases when moving from site to site, or even along the roadside. Contaminants collect in areas such as the grill, radiator, wheel arches, chassis rails, greased areas and even the interior.

Biosecurity risks like these have implications for agriculture, the environment and the Australian economy. And managing biosecurity imposes responsibilities on property owners, contractors and big business alike.

The Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002, regulates the supply of declared weeds and pest animals, the supply of ‘things’, and the movement of vehicles, containing or likely to contain the reproductive material of a declared pest plant.

It’s also important to note that, under the Land Access Code, a resource authority holder must (if asked) provide a landholder with a copy of the wash-down record showing that their vehicle is clean before entering a property.

With this in mind, here are a few practical ways you can manage biosecurity risks in and around your operations…

1. Come clean, go clean
• Prevention is better than cure - ensure vehicles and equipment come clean and go clean from your property or work site.
• Identify a dedicated area or facility where vehicles, equipment and machinery can be washed down.
• Implement a regular cleaning and maintenance program. Depending on your risks, this may be daily, weekly or even monthly.
• Should vehicles and equipment come into contact with a potential biosecurity risk, clean all soil, vegetation and other potential contaminants immediately and before moving between work sites or into a ‘clean’ area.

2. Restrict access and movements
• Use signage and entry practices to ensure staff and visitors understand your biosecurity hygiene requirements.
• Do not allow vehicles or equipment to enter unless they are clean.
• Maintain records of all movements onto and off your site (visitors, loads, materials).
• Incorporate biosecurity requirements in all contracts and land access agreements.
• Establish movement corridors along which vehicle movements can be concentrated. This will allow you to closely monitor and control weed and pest issues within these high risk areas.
• Clearly identify no-go areas with signage.
• Work within clean areas first (before entering weed and pest infested areas) and where possible, time works outside of peak seeding periods.

3. Manage loads and materials
• Consider the hygiene of loads and materials such as soil, gravel, sand, water, construction materials, agricultural materials and livestock.
• Seek hygiene declarations for all materials where possible.
• Seek local suppliers that offer quality controls for managing weed and pest hygiene risks.
• Implement sound quarantine practices with livestock and fodder to ensure that potential contaminants have passed through their system before being introduced to clean areas.  This can take upto 14 days.

4. Manage disturbed areas
• Revegetate bare ground and disturbed areas with native plants or local species as quickly as possible.
• Protect disturbed areas from further disturbance (this might include temporary fencing to keep livestock and even native animals out until groundcover can be re-established).
• Monitor for weed and pest issues and implement controls as required.

Biosecurity is more than just a legislative requirement. When you implement effective biosecurity management measures, you’re protecting your reputation, your property and your interests. This saves you time and money in the future!

How can you improve your biosecurity management to protect your interests? Do you require vehicles and equipment to come clean and go clean from your property?