Over the past few years, we’ve been aware of businesses undertaking movements of grape harvesters into WA either directly from SA or via SA from other eastern states. With these movements, we’ve gained a heightened awareness of the similarities and differences in state regulatory requirements for the importation of machinery previously used in vineyards.

The importation of grape harvesters into Western Australia from other states can be lengthy and costly. Many who try initially fail the border inspections, despite best attempts at meeting the import conditions. This can be costly, with recleaning and reinspection costing many thousands of dollars, in addition to lost time.

Hans Loder, Viticulturist-Vineyard Manager of Penley Estate in Coonawarra shares with us his key actions and learnings from preparing a second-hand grape harvester for export from SA into WA.

  1. Confirm the import requirements
  • Each state’s quarantine conditions are slightly different. For WA, importation of a harvester includes application of an approved biocide and completion of a ‘Notice of Intent to Import’ document, with redirection to a designated WA inspection point mandatory.
  • Contact Quarantine WA for the latest Western Australian Import Conditions on (08) 9334 1800. Ensure these are valid at the time of importing (note the date at the top of the document) so you are following the most up to date requirements for entry. Be aware of the need for load coverage, along with the requirement to send a Notice of Intent to Import form to the Eucla Quarantine Station at least 24 hours prior to arrival.
  • Make yourself a timeline to work towards, ensuring all cleaning, treatments, documentation and inspections are carried out in an appropriate order and timeframe. You will need to arrange an onsite inspection through Biosecurity SA as part of this process.
  1. Thoroughly clean and clean again
  • Strip down all the harvester parts – do not take short cuts. If you think ‘surely no dirt could get in there’, you’re in for a surprise.
  • Remove all fish plates, rods, curtains, buckets, belts and chains. Ideally, do not transport chains, but if necessary, ensure thorough cleaning of every chain linkage (this can take longer than you would expect).
  • Separate all hose bundles, remove all guarding, sheaths, cable ties, etc.
  • Take fans apart and transport in pieces if possible.
  • Only ship what is absolutely essential. Dispose of any replaceable or old parts prior to shipping, including, for example, old curtains, worn buckets/fish plates, screws and bolts and replace them with new at the destination. 
  • Split the discharge shoot (if fitted) to enable internal cleaning and inspection.
  • Undertake thorough high pressure and/or steam surface cleaning of the harvester and all parts multiple times to remove all soil, berries, weed seeds and grease.
  • Use a wire brush to remove particularly stuck items.
  • Lift carpets and mats in self-propelled harvester cabins to remove any organic matter, seeds, leaves and dirt. Also inspect air conditioner filters, window and door frames and anywhere else leaves, berries, weed seeds or dirt can collect.
  • Strip everything off the harvester so that the harvester can be thoroughly inspected. A quarantine officer needs to be able to see into every corner, in and under every fixture and packaged component. Buckets are ideally transported in a mesh crate, enabling an inspector to view in and through the packed items. Fish plates and screens for example can be bundled together using octopus or ratchet straps or similar, to enable an inspector to easily undo bundles to check each item individually. 
  1. Obtain final importation tips
  • Proactively contact Quarantine WA to find out exactly where the load will be redirected for inspection as this will be helpful for the logistics firm to know. Also, obtain contact details for the inspector on duty at that location. Call them to advise of your planned harvester movement. Double check the import requirements with them and ask for further tips or advice for a successful import based on issues they’ve been noticing. This conversation reminded me to check on a couple of items and this could’ve made all the difference!
  1. Arrange and conduct heat treatment and other required treatments followed by an inspection by a Biosecurity SA Inspector
  • Call the Naracoorte Heat Shed Manager (0429 430 641) and book the heat shed treatment a week in advance to lock in a time.
  • Call SA Plant Health Market Access (08 8207 7814) to arrange an onsite inspection at the heat shed. The PIRSA Inspector will need to verify the heat treatment and witness the biocide treatment before issuing a Plant Health Certificate. 
  • Organise for the carrier to be present to load the harvester at the heat shed following the treatments and inspection and to provide tarps to cover the load in accordance with WA import specifications.
  • Conduct the heat treatment and then apply the approved biocide. We sourced F10SC biocide from a local vet, which we applied following label directions. We applied this using a small ute-mounted sprayer with a high volume nozzle that made a liberal application, although we believe knapsack sprayers are typically used for this application.
  • Load the harvester on the clear asphalted loading area directly outside the heat shed and check one last time that no dirt has attached to tyres or been flicked onto the harvester during the loading process.
  • Tightly tarp.
  1. Documentation
  • The freight carrier must complete an ‘Notice of Intent to Import’ form and submit it to the designated WA quarantine station at least 24 hours prior to arrival, at Eucla in our case. No inspection of agriculture or mining equipment occurs at Eucla though and expect mandatory redirection to either Kalgoorlie or Esperance. Grape harvesters will not be permitted through to Perth/Guildford for inspection, due to the proximity of this point to the Swan Valley. 
  • The harvester must be accompanied by the Plant Health Certificate, a copy of the Notice of Intent to import form and any other documentation required by Quarantine WA.
  1. Arrival in WA
  • Correspond with your freight carrier to identify the relative success of your inspection on arrival in WA. Our carrier provided feedback that the application of the biocide was complimented by the inspector in Esperance, who made mention that he could smell the treatment when tarps were removed from the harvester and on the cleanliness aspect, he said, “if only all harvesters presented like this”. The carrier also passed on that the inspector had questioned some dirt/dust on the machine’s railings, but which had come from the carpet segments the driver had used to protect his tarpaulin from damage – so the inspector was thorough! 
  • If a harvester fails inspection and requires follow up cleaning/treatment, this will be undertaken at a registered cleaning point at the importer’s cost (potentially upwards of $10,000). 

“Be proactive and very thorough with the cleaning – check, check and check again,” Hans said.

“There are no short cuts that can be safely taken, and the quarantine requirements have a sound basis. Places I thought there was no way dirt or grape material could enter consistently revealed contaminants on cleaning or taking apart.

“Reports from other exporters were to set aside at least a full seven days for the cleaning and disinfestation process. Luckily, we were not in a rush to transport the harvester and preparation was undertaken over a nine-month period. This was likely a key to our success.”

We always recommend that you contact Quarantine WA for the latest Western Australian Import Conditions on (08) 9334 1800 and to confirm the process, as requirements may change from time to time.