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“Protecting your future”

What is biosecurity?

Biosecurity is about managing the risks and potential harm to our community, our environment and economy from pests and diseases, or misuse of agricultural and veterinary chemicals (Biosecurity SA website).

It’s a shared responsibility of government, industry, and the community.

A major outbreak of a pest or disease, could potentially cost millions (if not billions) and affect farmers, their produce and livelihoods.  Exotic pests and diseases may also impact on Australia’s clean, premium reputation and trade in hard-won international and domestic markets.

Farmers have primary responsibility to manage biosecurity pests (animals and plants) and threats on their properties.  A regional or state-wide response occurs very rarely and only for significant outbreaks.

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Picture of a glassy winged sharpshooter

Why does biosecurity matter for grapegrowers?

Biosecurity at a vineyard level is about protecting your vines from a pest or disease that could dramatically reduce your income or even destroy your livelihood and that of others around you.  At an industry level, it is about protecting our right to export grapes to overseas markets AND about protecting our industry from an exotic pest or disease coming in on an imported product.  It can also be extended to include the control of significant endemic pests and diseases such as phylloxera and fruit fly.  Biosecurity has been identified as WGGA’s number one priority activity for 2013-14, while GWRDC has identified it as one of their top four research priorities in their 2013-2017 strategic plan.

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Picture of grapevine infected with red blotch associated virus

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What do growers need to know?

As a grower there are a number activities which can inadvertently increase the risk of an unwanted pest of disease entering your vineyard.  Below are some key activities which growers can focus on to reduce their risk.

1.  Undertaking best practice vineyard management

The most important thing that a grower can do is ensure that their vineyard is managed in a way that minimises the risk of any unwanted pests or diseases entering.  There are a number of simple measures that will significantly reduce your risk including:

  • Restricting the movement of people and vehicles in vineyards and high risk areas;
  • Controlling volunteer plants that could harbour pests around cropping areas;
  • Ensuring  cartage and transport equipment are cleaned before entering farms;
  • Ensuring that picking buckets, crates and bins are clean before taking them into a vineyard;
  • Disposing of crop residues and by-products effectively, such as by burning or burying;
  • Reporting neglected vineyards or feral grapevines where biosecurity risks are not being managed; and
  • Purchasing pest-free planting material.

The following resources may be of interest:

  • The Biosecurity Manual for the Viticulture Industry is available to download for FREE from the Farm Biosecurity website and hard copies are also available through the WGGA office.  The manual provides management tips, descriptions of high priority pests and record sheets.
  • More information can also be found on the Farm Biosecurity website itself, including details of biosecurity essentials, toolkits and the latest news and events.
  • Visit the PaDIL website for detailed information and diagnostics on pests and diseases.  PaDIL is an initiative of the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and provides high quality images and information tools designed for biosecurity and biodiversity.

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2.  Managing the movement of grapes & grape products between states

The movement of grapes and grape products is one of the highest risk activities that a grower will undertake.  If you intend to move machinery, grapes, grapevines or grape products (must and juice) interstate, then it is essential that you comply with the regulations of the destination state.  These exist to protect states from the spread of phylloxera and fruit fly into currently un-infested areas.

The following is a list of the links to each of the State Primary Industries or Agriculture departments and the associated regulations:

 

3.  Specific Protocols

Specific protocols have been developed to protect vineyards from the spread of phylloxera and other unwanted pests, diseases and weeds.  It is strongly recommended that you follow best practice protocols to protect your vineyard from these unwelcome visitors.

Details of phylloxera protection protocols can be found on the Vinehealth Australia (previously Phylloxera & Grape Industry Board of South Australia) website.

Phylloxera

WGGA biosecurity activities

WGGA is working with Plant Health Australia, the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and other stakeholders on a range of biosecurity matters including:

  • Representing the wine and grape industries on the Plant Health Australia meetings, NVBC and other bodies to ensure that government activities are appropriately directed to protect us;
  • Ensuring that the obligations under the EPPRD are fulfilled and that grape growers can respond effectively to any potential incursion;
  • Providing input into industry decision making on biosecurity matters through the Viticulture Biosecurity Industry Reference Group (VBIRG);
  • Contributing to the Viticulture Biosecurity Plan– the blueprint for managing an outbreak in the most effective manner possible and precursor to the on-farm User’s Manual;
  • Promoting the uptake of the Biosecurity Manual for the Viticulture Industry to encourage best practice management at all vineyards;
  • Facilitating ongoing management and policy development for wine sector biosecurity;
  • Raising awareness among grapegrowers of biosecurity and their role in protecting their vineyards and the industry from what could be a devastating incursion or outbreak; and
  • Working towards developing sustainable funding for industry biosecurity priorities.

National biosecurity arrangements

Australia has a strong biosecurity system that protects industries, including winegrape growers, and our natural ecosystems.  All levels of government and industry need to work together to ensure that the system is effective.  Outlined below are the key components of Australia’s biosecurity arrangements.

Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture has primary responsibility for managing Australia’s biosecurity system.  The role of the department is to safeguard Australia’s animal and plant health status to maintain overseas markets and protect the economy and environment from the impact of exotic pests and diseases, through risk assessment, inspection and certification, and the implementation of emergency response arrangements for Australian agricultural, food and fibre industries.

Plant Health Australia

Plant Health Australia (PHA) is a public company limited by guarantee and established by the Commonwealth government to coordinate the development of national policy and capability for the purpose of enhancing the ability of Australian agriculture to respond effectively to plant pests and diseases.

Membership of the PHA is on a subscription basis.

WGGA represents the wine and grape industry sectors on PHA.  Winegrape growers pay the membership fee for PHA through the Grape Research levy.

The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed

The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) is a formal legally binding agreement between PHA, the Australian Government, all state and territory governments and national plant industry body signatories.  WGGA is a signatory to the Deed.

It covers the management and funding of responses to emergency plant pest (EPP) incidents, including the potential for owner reimbursement costs for growers.  It also formalises the role of plant industries’ participation in decision making, as well as their contribution towards costs related to approved responses.

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Viticulture Industry Biosecurity Plan

The Viticulture Industry Biosecurity Plan (IBP) provides the viticulture industry planners and governments with a mechanism to identify exotic plant pests and identify strengths and weaknesses in its current biosecurity activities.  It is part of the overall strategy to improve biosecurity preparedness.

An important component of the Plan is the Threat Summary Tables (TST), a list of more than 200 exotic plant pests assessed for the potential biosecurity threat that they represent to the viticulture industry.  Each pest is given an overall risk rating based on four criteria; the potential to enter, establish, spread and have an economic impact.  Through this process, and further consultation, the highest priority pests are identified and highlighted for possible future research activity, surveillance, on-site biosecurity and awareness activities.

The plan was developed by Plant Health Australia in consultation with industry groups including WGGA.  It has just been updated with funding support from the GWRDC.

National Viticulture Biosecurity Committee

Formed in 2013 with a secretariat funded by the GWRDC, the National Viticulture Biosecurity Committee (NVBC) is the peak body for strategic leadership and technical advice on biosecurity issues across all viticulture industries.  It is an advisory group, rather than a decision-making group.  It is made up of representatives from state governments and peak industry organisations including winegrapes, wine, dried fruit, tablegrapes and nurseries.

Other information