Grain growers are reminded to have effective ‘come clean, go clean’ protocols on-farm to reduce the spread of pests and weeds this harvest season.
Grains Research and Development Corporation pests manager Leigh Nelson said the movement of vehicles and machinery between properties during harvest made the need for effective biosecurity practices critical.
‘‘Growers spend significant time on weed control year round — the last thing you want is for a contractor’s vehicle to come on-farm and spread weed and weed seeds from paddock-to-paddock,’’ Ms Nelson said.
‘‘Weeds are costly both in time and money to control, they limit the carrying capacity of pasture and rob moisture and fertiliser from crops.
‘‘While for many the use of contracting workers, vehicles and machinery is unavoidable at harvest time, ensuring that protocols are clearly laid out for visitors, and strictly adhered to, is the best way to maintain biosecurity on-farm.’’
NSW DPI grains biosecurity officer Rachel Taylor-Hukins said having a clean-down facility or area to allow growers, visitors and contractors to clean and disinfect themselves, all vehicles and machinery entering and leaving a property was vital.
‘‘A dedicated wash-down facility simplifies this process but those without one can still provide an area, preferably on gravel and away from paddocks, to clean down,’’ Ms Taylor-Hukins said.
‘‘Vehicles and machinery should be cleaned from the top down, focusing on protected areas that may be harbouring soil and plant matter such as internal spaces, wheel arches and undercarriage areas.’’
Ms Taylor-Hukins said weeds were only one side of the equation, with storage pests also a risk at harvest time.
‘‘The National Grains Farm Biosecurity Program emphasises that machinery cleanliness is also important to help prevent pest infestations in stored grain,’’ she said.
‘‘Insects can be harboured where grain residues are left in grain handling equipment and headers, especially if they haven’t been cleaned since last harvest, so not only should contractor machinery be cleaned, but your own equipment too.
‘‘Growers can also undertake best practice hygiene in and around all storages to ensure pest protection.’’