Plant Biosecurity

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Protect your plants and crops from pests and disease

Biosecurity applies to everyone, whether you work in a plant industry or simply just have an interest in gardening. Biosecurity is not limited to large-scale growers, in fact simple biosecurity measures can protect your backyard vegetable patch from pests and disease.

Below are some simple, inexpensive biosecurity measures that you can adopt on your property.

Keep it clean

Washing your hands with soapy water before and after handling plants and seeds is one of the easiest biosecurity measures you can take.

This is particularly important if you are dealing with plant material or soil that you suspect could be contaminated by a pest, disease or weed seeds.

Keeping farm equipment clean is also important. Do not bring agricultural equipment onto your property without ensuring it is clean and free of soil, seeds and other contaminants.

In addition, the equipment that you use on plants and crops should be clean and disinfected before using it on a different plantation or crop.

It is important to remember that you need to thoroughly clean an item before it will be satisfactorily disinfected.

Visitors

Managing the movement of visitors on your property is one way of preventing pests, disease and weeds spreading onto your property. Some diseases, as seen recently with equine influenza, can be very easily spread from one area to another on people's clothing, in their hair and on vehicles. Shoes pose a major risk as they can carry dirt containing weed seeds and other plant material.

Have a designated area for visitor parking which is well away from your shed, plants and crops. 

If your visitors have been in contact with someone else's plants or crop prior to arriving on your property, ask them to wash their hands before handling your plants. This is particularly important with travelling (itinerant) workers and other service providers.

Don't put this farm at risk! poster PDF Icon PDF [191 KB].  Place this biosecurity poster in work areas such as packing sheds or your worker's smoko room.

A traveller's guide to interstate quarantine information visit the Quarantine Domestic website.

Buffer zone

Where possible, create a 'buffer zone' with your neighbours through measures such as double fencing and wind breaks.

Know what to look for

Check the origin of material coming on or going off your property to assess it for the risk of disease or insects.

Plant symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

  • plant death
  • die-back of shoot-tips
  • failure of plants to thrive such as a reduction in growth or low production
  • low germination rates
  • yellow, black, brown or orange spots on leaves
  • unusual markings or colouration on leaves or fruit
  • leaf curling, and
  • new weeds.

Use certified 'free from pests' seed or propagation material and use trusted suppliers.

Report it

The production of crops to supply domestic and overseas markets is important to Australia. In 2007-08 the value of Australia’s plant industries were worth around $20 billion to our economy. For this reason it is crucial that Australia’s plants and crops are protected and remain free of weeds, pests and diseases.

The early detection and containment of a weed, pest or disease is essential to prevent its spread and assists in the eradication efforts by agriculture authorities. It could help save an entire industry.

Report the suspect weed, pest or disease by phoning the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. This will connect you to your Department of Primary Industries or Agriculture, where you will be advised on the most appropriate course of action.

Report plant pests and disease poster PDF Icon PDF [205 KB].  This poster shows the simple steps to reporting new weeds or a plant pest or disease.  Keep it handy in your farm's office.

Leave it overseas

Food, plant material and animal products from overseas - including many common souvenirs – could introduce some of the world's most serious pests and diseases into Australia, devastating our valuable agriculture and tourism industries and unique environment.

Before you travel you should check the department's website for a list of items you must declare.

Farmers' Markets

See the Biosecurity and Farmers' Markets page.

Free Farm Biosecurity Materials

If you would like copies of our 'Vital information for plant producers' brochure or the 'Don't put this farm at risk!' poster sent to you, please send us an email with your name, postal address and quantities required.

Biosecurity Video Clips

See our plant biosecurity and equipment biosecurity videos or listen to the audio versions.