Fifteen wine industry contractors and growers participated in a Vinehealth Australia Biosecurity for Contractors and Vineyard Owners pilot training session in the Adelaide Hills in early August.

Liz Riley from Vitibit, based in New South Wales, who worked with Vinehealth Australia to write the program, facilitated its delivery, after which a group discussion was had about the best ways to deliver the program content to industry.

The program covers:

  • Biosecurity risks and responsibilities
  • Key pests
  • The impact of a biosecurity outbreak (for contractors, clients, and the industry at large)
  • How to ‘come clean, leave clean’
  • Business tips and tools

“Through the program, we want to get across to contractors and vineyard owners that their farm-gate hygiene and biosecurity activities will help keep them in business,” Liz said.

“Freedom from pests and weeds keeps our industry viable by sustaining vine health, enabling us to meet our production goals, reducing input costs, maintaining market access and enabling tourism without limitations.

“The impact of an outbreak on a contactor’s business would be enormous. You might be shut out or shut in from working on properties, not to mention the increased regulatory requirements. The financial impact would be huge.”

Liz said it was clear that communication needs to improve between contractors and vineyard owners about biosecurity and farm-gate hygiene practices and expectations.

“There needs to be more open conversation about biosecurity. Ideally, vineyard owners and contractors should include biosecurity expectations as part of the quoting process, detailing routes of travel, machinery and equipment cleaning, footwear disinfesting, record keeping and more.”

Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Lee said the aim of the program was to encourage the shared responsibility for biosecurity across the wine supply chain, with open flow of biosecurity information and expectations a strong starting point.

“We need to take some big steps forward with our biosecurity practices in the grape and wine supply chain,” Inca said. “Biosecurity underpins the sustainability of our industry and we’ve seen the devastating impacts it can have with COVID, Panama Tropical Race 4 and now Varroa mite to name a few.”

The Biosecurity for Contractors Program will continue to be refined in coming months based on the feedback from the workshop, with multiple content delivery mechanisms being worked on.

The participants of the Biosecurity for Contractors and Vineyard Owners pilot training session in the Adelaide Hills.