A keen group took part in the ‘Biosecurity from the front line’ workshop at the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference bright and early Sunday morning.

They heard from eight speakers, including our own Technical Manager Suzanne McLoughlin, who presented on ‘A practical guide for making sense of biosecurity for your business.’

To reverse the current level of apathy towards biosecurity at the farm gate, Suzanne suggested businesses evaluate their biosecurity preparedness by following some key steps:

  • Quantify what you have to lose to a significant biosecurity incursion;
  • Know your pests;
  • Identify your risk creators;
  • Identify your risk vectors; and
  • Undertake an appropriate set of practices.

Also at the workshop, Monica Cooper, Viticultural Farm Advisor with the University of California, shared her insights on the impacts of a serious pest or disease incursion. She emphasised the importance of science-based and data-driven decision-making and transparent communications.

She demonstrated how scientific capability and capacity could be extended successfully via the use of limited-focus regional grower groups, organised to support cooperative management and facilitate community driven communications, for example in leafroll virus and European grapevine moth monitoring and management.

Monica stressed the importance of using climate suitability modelling as part of establishing risk profiles for high priority plant pests, in terms of their ability to establish and cause economic harm. Quantification of the known host range, and relative availability of pest management tools for each pest are also vital in determining potential impact and relative difficulty in managing in an outbreak situation.

As we are about to enter discussions on updating our Viticulture Industry Biosecurity Plan with industry and government, we query whether we have all the facts at hand in preparation for these discussions. And, do we have a matrix to visualise our industry’s level of preparedness for controlling each high priority plant pest, either with agrochemical or non-agrochemical approaches?

Later at the workshop, Ben Harris, Viticultural Manager for Australia and New Zealand at Treasury Wine Estates, spoke about the importance of collaboration and embedding biosecurity into every day practices, as imperative to changing biosecurity culture. 

He also outlined the importance of ensuring a consistent approach to biosecurity, based on standards and called for best practice standards around virus management.

We’ll share more from the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference in future e-news issues.