Vinehealth Australia’s Technical Manager Suzanne McLoughlin was invited to talk about biosecurity to about 70 McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek growers on 17 October, as part of a line up of speakers covering water management, sustainability, trunk diseases, soil health and pruning.

“It was a great opportunity to remind growers, especially in the lead up to vintage of the heightened biosecurity landscape we are operating in and the simple activities that can be carried out on-farm to limit the entry and spread of pests, diseases and weeds on vineyards,” Suzanne said.

Suzanne reminded growers that biosecurity must be viewed as a shared responsibility. “This is imperative in our wine industry where there is so much movement of people and machinery and equipment between our vineyards, regions and states,” she said.

”The actions or inactions of individuals can have far reaching effects on other grape and wine businesses.”

Suzanne spoke about the need to convert biosecurity awareness into action on the ground and took growers through a suggested step by step way of thinking about biosecurity to achieve this. This included:

  • Emphasising the impact an incursion could have on a business;
  • Quantifying the value of the business (what’s at stake);
  • Gaining awareness of the pests and diseases most likely to cause significant harm and where to report anything unusual;
  • Consideration of who creates the biosecurity risk associated with the property;
  • Acknowledgement of the key pathways via which pests, diseases and weeds can enter the property, e.g. people (through footwear and clothing), machinery and equipment (through soil and vine material), grapes, grape marc, planting material and even on cargo and shipping containers; and
  • Identification of practical steps for minimising the risk of a pest or disease incursion, including:
    • Being aware of regulated movements and checking compliance against them;
    • Training staff in effective monitoring and reporting of pests;
    • Training staff and all visitors on hygiene protocols (e.g. how to effectively disinfest footwear);
    • Restricting people and vehicle access to vineyards with fences, gates and shrubs;
    • Using appropriate signage to convey visitor expectations;
    • Requiring all visitors to report on arrival as the first chance to restrict access to the vineyard for those who pose a risk;
    • Maintaining visitor records for traceback and traceforward activities in light of an incursion;
    • Adopting a ‘clean in, clean out’ policy for machinery and equipment; and
    • Planting with pest free propagation material to provide a vineyard the greatest chance of long term health.

If you would like Vinehealth Australia to speak about biosecurity in your region, contact us on (08) 8273 0550.