Grain guardians wanted
18 January 2016
Victorian Grains Biosecurity staff are looking for sentinels to guard against pests and diseases in the state's grain crops including wheat, oats, barley and pulses.
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) Biosecurity Officer, Jim Moran, wants to take surveillance in the grains industry to a higher level by starting a Sentinel Silo program.
"Australia already has sentinel bee hives, chicken flocks and other sentinel plant and animal surveillance programs," Mr Moran said.
"Now we want to recruit the owners of grain stores to guard the grains industry too."
Sentinel plants or animals are early indicators of the presence of a pest or disease, often because they are more sensitive or vulnerable to infection.
"The Sentinel Silo program in Victoria wants to hear from any grower interested in participating, but I'm particularly keen to hear from farmers who don't use chemicals to control insect pests and fungi," Mr Moran said.
"This might be more common where grain is stored on-farm for animal feed and not grain for sale."
Livestock producers, mixed grain and livestock farmers, owners or managers of intensive chicken, duck or pig farms or mixed farms with a grain storage bin, bunker or silo are likely to be good candidates for this program.
"We realise this conflicts with the best practice biosecurity advice we normally give producers whose grain is destined for export markets and needs to be free from insects."
"But we need to check other sites regularly to give rigour to our area freedom status and to allow early warning of an incursion."
"By surveying sentinel silos every three months he will be able to report with a greater certainty that exotic pests are absent from grain storages in Victoria.
"Our aim is to survey the same grain stores by inserting insect probes, sieving grain and using new pheromone traps."
The location of all sites will be kept confidential and participating farmers will be doing agriculture and the grains industry a huge service as well as getting information on improving their own grain storage systems.
Sites near the coast or a port, a big grain bunker or receival site represent the worst case scenario for a pest or disease outbreak, potentially shutting down export markets and would be a big help.
"If individuals or a grower group are interested, I can provide biosecurity information and training to improve hygiene and biosecurity at these sites over time," Mr Moran added.
The first two growers to be signed up for the program will receive an insect sieve and grain probe, valued at $170. Please contact Jim Moran at DEDJTR in Bendigo on (03) 5430 4479 or Jim.Moran@ecodev.vic.gov.au.
Categorised under: Agriculture,Biosecurity