On-Farm Hygiene Practices
(A) Vehicle and personal
When visiting a potato property, you should observe the following practices, in addition to any existing hygiene protocols you may be employing:
1. Avoid driving on paddocks - keep vehicles on hard surfaces where possible.
2. If vehicles, equipment or people are in situations where they become contaminated with soil:
- Wash vehicles with a high-pressure hose (especially tyres and wheel wells) before leaving the property.
- Set up a disinfestation station on a suitable hard stand or grassed area and:
- Remove large clods of soil and plant material from boots and equipment with screwdrivers or a similar blunt instrument.
- Place 10cm of water and some detergent into a footbath. Scrub boots and equipment clean of any plant and soil matter.
- Place 10cm of sodium hypochlorite solution into second footbath and rinse all equipment boots, brushes and screwdriver. Chemical gloves and safety glasses must be worn to protect skin and eyes. Avoid splashing on clothing and exposed skin. Rinse hands in clean water.
- Discard the water and detergent from the first footbath in a location that experiences low traffic levels (ie. Close to a fence post, away from gateways). Rinse the detergent footbath with the chlorine solution from the disinfestation footbath.
- Change into street footwear before leaving the site.
- If a paddock is re-entered for any reason, change into gumboots and repeat disinfestation procedure on leaving.
(B) Machinery inspection guidelines
- About potato cyst nematode (PCN)
- Before you begin
- Selecting a cleaning site
- Inspecting & cleaning of machinery
- Disposal of waste
- Records and reporting
This document provides information on measures that promote biosecurity in association with the movement of used machinery.
The movement of machinery presents a significant biosecurity risk. Dirty machinery can contain soil, seeds and plant material. Dirt can be dislodged when a machine is next used, and the new area contaminated as a result.
Soil-borne pests and diseases like potato cyst nematode, bacterial wilt and weeds can be transported to previously uncontaminated areas through soil and organic matter found in contaminated machinery. Used machinery cannot leave control districts or enter other states or plant protection areas unless certified free of soil and plant material.
Biosecurity Victoria has an essential role in establishing pro-active biosecurity programs in partnership with industry and the continued development of market access opportunities for Victorian farmers.
2. Potato cyst nematode (PCN)
Nematodes are microscopic worm like organisms which feed on live plant roots. Potato cyst nematode (PCN) is a specialised pest of potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants.
- PCN lives in the soil and can be easily spread by the movement of host plants or soil attached to plants, bulbs, advanced trees and agricultural equipment.
- PCN can reduce crop yield significantly, increase production costs, and result in trade restrictions for potatoes.
- The female forms cysts on the roots of host plants which can detach and survive in the soil for up to 20 years.
3. Before you begin - minimising the risk of PCN movement
PCN can be spread in soil or organic matter carried on farm equipment. The following procedures have been developed to minimise the risk of PCN movement within and between job tasks and sites., These procedures are largely based on the timing of operations, the order of operations and machinery inspecting/cleaning procedures. The following elements should be considered;
- ensure clothing and cleaning equipment is thoroughly clean before beginning a task.
- establish safe cleaning entry points and waste exit points on the machinery to be cleaned.
- complete jobs during low risk periods of the year - avoid dusty/wet/muddy conditions.
- Clean in low risk areas first, progressing towards areas of higher risk
- keep machinery clean and uncontaminated for as long as possible.
- avoid unnecessary movement of machinery, vehicles and people in the clean down area.
- avoid cleaning contaminated machinery in environmental or production sensitive areas.
- comply with legislation.
4. Selecting a cleaning site
Previous discussions have established the importance of cleaning machinery in order to reduce PCN movement between locations. As the cleaning process can contaminate adjacent areas, sites must be selected carefully. Some districts have public clean down facilities designed for cleaning machinery.
Many towns also have wash down facilities at livestock sale yards or council depots which might be suitable, but permission to use these facilities is usually needed. If such facilitates are used, ensure that possible contamination is contained whilst transporting machinery to the cleaning site.
In many situations, public or enterprise cleaning facilities will not be available and the risk of spreading PCN when transporting machinery may be too great or prohibited by legislation. Inspection & cleaning sites will therefore need to be located at or near the job site and could be a paddock, roadside or land near an owner's workshop. Some factors to consider when selecting a cleaning site include;
- close to the infested area to minimise spread during transit.
- agreeable to land owner and provider of goods & service.
- easily accessed - all weather.
- ideally somewhere where contaminants can be contained - sump.
- away from water courses & drains – avoid possible contamination with PCN or cleaning agents.
- relatively flat to reduce runoff and for safety while working on machinery.
- stable surface – to prevent re-contaminating machinery, preferably concrete, gravel or well grassed areas
- access to electricity and water for cleaning
- easily identified for monitoring and controlling any PCN that may establish at the inspection/cleaning site.
- distinguishing landmark, GPS location.
5. Inspecting and cleaning machinery
The process of inspecting and cleaning machinery will vary according to the type of machinery (e.g. planter, power harrow or harvester), model and attachments fitted. Other factors influencing these processes include the working environment, available resources and the nature of other contaminants, as well as business or legislative requirements. Information to assist the inspection and cleaning processes can be obtained from a range of sources including;
- training workshops
- enterprise guidelines or protocols (e.g. codes of practice)
- manuals (e.g. manufacturers handbooks or industry organisations)
Tools and equipment
Equipment which can assist machinery inspection includes;
- tools to remove covers/guards
- safety glasses, gloves
- rod, probe, wire
- spade, spatula and scoop
Equipment required for cleaning will vary with the type of machine and contaminant, but might include some of the items listed in these four groups;
- personal protection
- sturdy footwear
- safety hat
- eye and hand protection
- Other protection -e.g. ear muffs
- chemical protection as required
- air compressor or vacuum cleaner
- manual equipment
- brush, broom
- crowbar, spade
- rod, probe, wire, screwdriver
- high pressure equipment
- high pressure washer
- steam cleaner
In any case, care must taken to avoid damaging machinery during the cleaning process and this may limit the use of some cleaning equipment in some situations. For example, it is not recommended that water be used to clean the internal parts of a header.
As a general guide, water is suitable for equipment components which work under the ground and the external parts of most machines. For fragile parts of a machine or areas prone to water damage (e.g. cabins or onboard computers), use air or manual cleaning equipment. Machines may need to be regreased or lubricated after cleaning with water, especially if detergents or other chemicals have been used.
Before inspecting or cleaning any machine, it needs to be made safe. Procedures will vary between of machinery types and models, but manufacturer and company guidelines should always be followed.
Common sense should also prevail and for most types of machinery this includes;
- machine is immobilised - level ground, parking brake, wheels chocked.
- lower blades, buckets, forks or other raised implements to the ground.
- remove the key when working inside large machinery so that it cannot started by a colleague.
- secure any free moving parts which could cause injury if they move during the inspection or cleaning process - inspection hatches, free moving blades.
- insert travel pins or use supports if part of the machine or implement has to be raised - Never rely on hydraulics when working under these parts of a machine.
Removing covers and guards
Covers, guards and inspection plates/hatches will often need to be removed and replaced as part of the inspection/cleaning process. The location and procedures for removing and replacing these items will vary between equipment types and models, meaning that operator or workshop manuals may need to be consulted. Always use correct tools for removing and replacing covers and guards.
In some instances, an operator may become familiar with places where contaminants accumulate on a particular machine and there may be ways of making this process easier (e.g. replace hexagon nuts with wing nuts so that spanners are not required). After inspecting and cleaning, always ensure that covers and guards are replaced correctly and checked.
Areas of machinery which need to be inspected and cleaned if contaminated
The areas of a machine that need to be inspected and cleaned will depend on the type of machine. PCN can be transferred in wet soil attached to wheels, tracks or parts of the machine that work in the ground. PCN can also be transferred in dust that can accumulate in many parts of the machine - engine bay, cabins and air intakes.
Given the diversity of possible contamination points, it is recommended that checklists of inspection/cleaning points be developed and used to guide the inspecting/cleaning process. Generic checklists are available for some types of equipment, but due to variation between models and attachments fitted, these usually need to be adapted for specific items of machinery. Such checklists not only make the inspecting/cleaning process easier, but when completed, dated and signed, can also be used to prove that the machine has been cleaned –clients expectations, legislation.
As an example, the following generic checklist has been provided for a four wheel drive utility. Add any additional locations requiring inspection/cleaning suggested by the regulator or owner/buyer to the checklist. Knowing your machine makes inspection and cleaning easier.
Depending on the situation, other machinery, equipment and support vehicles may also become contaminated on a job site. These will also need to be inspected and cleaned prior to leaving the site. Once the inspection/cleaning process has been completed, ensure that the cleaning equipment itself and clothing are secured and free of contaminants.
6. Disposing of waste
The cleaning process may generate waste in the form of contaminated water, dust, debris or chemicals. Where cleaning is completed at the job site, waste will often be left at the cleaning site (e.g. wash down water or debris blown from a machine with compressed air).
Obviously, if cleaning is undertaken in a paddock, little can be done to remove contamination, highlighting the importance of selecting an appropriate site. Where chemicals are used as part of the cleaning process, they should be disposed of according to enterprise, label and/or legislative requirements - decontamination sump.
Large amounts of straw and other debris can block piping and sumps specifically designed for chemical wash down. If these are to be used, then grills should be placed over drains to trap larger debris, which can later be collected and buried or burnt. Vacuumed material will also have to be disposed of, either by dumping at the site, transporting to another location or by burning.
Permits may be needed if contaminated material has to be transported to another location for disposal. Under PCN legislation, this includes soil and organic matter even if they are sealed in a suitable container.
Similarly permits may be needed if waste is to be buried in a recognised land fill or rubbish tip. Contact your local officer for further advice.
To minimise the risk of contaminating cleaning and waste disposal sites, as well as the risk of spreading PCN during transit, contaminants are best destroyed at the cleaning site whenever possible - bury dust soil and organic matter - assume waste contains viable PCN cysts. Depending on the situation, cleaning equipment, personnel and support vehicles may also be at risk.
7. Records and reporting
You will need to keep written records of machinery inspection and cleaning for a number of reasons. These include;
- your own purposes – workload management or job costings.
- client information or evidence of work done.
- adherence to industry code of practices or regulatory guidelines.
- evidence of compliance with legislation – state government compliance audits
Types of records
Inspection/cleaning checklists and sample collection forms may often be sufficient types of record for these purposes, but in other cases further documentation may be necessary. For example, people participating in industry codes of practice or accredited officers. The latter may require quite detailed records to substantiate compliance with regulations.
Increasing awareness and means of reducing risk by completing courses such as a government weed movement workshop.
Legislation governing PCN and other pest organisms vary between states, but these acts generally aim to reduce the spread and/or eradiate declared pest.
Example - extract from PCN control order:
2 Prohibitions relating to the control areas
(1) The removal from the control areas of –
(a) PCN host plants; or
(b) agricultural equipment; or
(c) packages, including bins or bulk bags, which contain, or have contained, any PCN host plants; or
(d) soil – is prohibited.
(2) Sub-clause (1) does not apply in the case of –
(a) nursery plants, including seedlings, grown in soil-less media; or (b) bare-rooted plants; or
(c) root vegetables (except potatoes) or bulbs which have been washed or brushed so as to be free of visible soil.
Note: Section 9(3) provides a penalty of 100 penalty units for a person who contravenes any prohibition or restriction in a control order if the person knows or has reason to believe that any place has been declared to be a control area, unless the person is authorised to do so under a permit issued by the Secretary.
- This information has been adapted from "Weed Movement, Machinery Inspection and Cleaning Workshop" Participant Workbook, 2005, provided by Michael Moerkerk, Horsham under the WEEDSTOP program.
- Machinery & Equipment Inspection, Western Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service, 2000
Generic guide for complex machinery
Complex agricultural, earthmoving and mining machinery requires careful inpsection, but the range of models and manufacturers of this equipment makes it difficult to develop checklists that are useful for more than a handful of machines. The generic guide (below) should assist users in developing a thorough and systematic routine to inspect machines for contamination with soil and plant material.
Persons inspecting used machinery for export should not operate the machinery as a part of the inspection process whilst any cleaning or any other inspection activity is taking place.
Once a machine has been inspected and certified as clean it should not be operated, or stored in an environment that could result in re-contamination, prior to shipment for export.
|Section||Typical contamination||Recommended Method|
|Driver's Cab||Carpet and under mats: seed, soil, debris||Visual; lift mats|
|Seals and window ledges: insects, seed, debris||Visual|
|Storage sections (inc ashtray) and spaces under seats/dash||Visual using torch if necessary|
|Aircon system||Shake out vacuum filters, run aircon|
|External Body||Gaps between or around fittings||Visual|
|Steps and running boards||Visual or scraper, tp and underneath|
|Hollow pipes, tubes and rails||Run machine, remove endcaps & check visually with torch, insert wire probe|
|Body cover or inspection plates||Remove plates; visual with torch or long-handled mirro|
|Fuel Tanks (possibly removable)||Soil and plant debris in compartment||Visual; open compartment and remove tank|
|Wiring Loom||In conduit, between wires||Visual|
|Wheels or Tracks||Tyre tread / damage (inc spare)||Visual - remove spare|
|Axles and wheel rims (inc spare)||Visual - remove spare|
|Wheel arches and mudflaps||Visual, or by feel; with torch if necessary|
|Plates and rollers of tracks||Operate machine; visual|
|Underbody||Behind belly plates, stoneguards and bumpers||Visual; elevate machine if necessary, remove plates etc and use scraper / torch / mirror as required|
|Chassis rails / channels||Remove endcaps if present, visual with torch, probe with wire|
|General surfaces||Visual; elevate machine if necessary, use scraper / mirror / torch as required|
|Engine Bay||Radiator and grille||Visual|
|Air cleaner||Open air cleaner; remove filter and tap, visual on the remaining parts|
|Channels or poorly accessible spaces||Visual, using torch if required|
|Functional Components i.e. blades, buckets, cutters,grain bins, sieves, threshers, augers||Feeder systems||Run machine and components|
|Inside components||Visual; remove plates / parts, use torch or mirror as required. Some spaces (i.e. grain bins) can only be effectively inspected from inside|
|External; cavities and surfaces||Visual|