Agriculture

Break the pest cycle before sowing

Seeding on Rowan Ford's Binnu property.
Seeding on Rowan Ford’s property Binnu, WA (Evan Collis)

With challenging and dry conditions prevailing in 2019, Grains Biosecurity Officer Jim Moran recommends staying one step ahead of pests by using farm biosecurity practices before and during sowing.

“Simple things can save you money in the long run by reducing the introduction and spread of pests, diseases and weeds on your property,” explained Jim.

Eliminate the ‘green bridge’

He recommends eliminating the ‘green bridge’ before planting by controlling weeds and volunteer plants from previous crops in your paddocks to break pest breeding cycles and reduce weed seed banks.

“It’s the easiest and most effective practice to protect this year’s (2019) crop as it will help to control insects, fungal diseases and weeds that are hard to kill or herbicide resistant,” said Jim.

“Removing the green bridge can also reduce the ability of rust spores to infect emerging seedlings.”

“Don’t forget to control areas along the verges of fences and roadsides. They’re often overlooked but are an ideal spot for diseases and pests to multiply and infect your crop.”

Clean machinery before sowing

Jim says it’s also important to clean your farm machinery so you don’t spread weeds, pests and diseases around your property.

“The nooks and crannies in your farm machinery are good hiding place for weeds, pests and diseases as they can easily trap seed, plant material or soil,” he said.

“As this is the easiest way to move pathogens, pests or weed seeds around your property it is best to ensure that your machinery is thoroughly cleaned before planting starts.”

He also suggests getting any contractors or agronomists you use for pre-sowing spraying, spreading of fertiliser or planting to make sure their machinery is very clean before working.

“It may be necessary to provide a dedicated wash down area with equipment. Watch this area for anything unusual emerging in the following weeks,” said Jim.

“Also tell contractors about any weed or pest issues on your farm and where they are to reduce the risk of spreading the problem to other areas of your farm or to someone else’s.”

Continue to keep things clean during sowing

While planting, Jim recommends having an air compressor or a high-pressure washer so you, or the contractor, can clean machinery, including clearing seed from planters, between paddocks and properties.

“It is essential to maintain farm hygiene practices on your property during sowing,” said Jim.

“Giving things a quick clean before leaving one paddock and moving to the next can significantly reduce your risk of spreading soil-borne pathogens and weed seed throughout your farm.”

“It’s also a good idea to leave the weedier paddocks until last in your planting cycle to reduce the risk of spreading the weeds into uninfected areas.”

Jim is a biosecurity officer for the Grains Farm Biosecurity Program which is an initiative of Plant Health Australia and Grain Producers Australia.

Contact him on (03) 5430 4479 for a free copy of the Grain on Farm Biosecurity Manual.

Find more information and tips on how to implement farm biosecurity on your property at farmbiosecurity.com.au.

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