Farm hygiene in the affected area
Farm hygiene in the affected area
Considerable investment has been made to this nationally significant eradication program. It is crucial that good on-farm hygiene practices are maintained in the chestnut blight Restricted Area. As the disease can be spread by substandard hygiene practices, any drop in standards may mean eradication efforts are compromised and the lifting of restrictions may be delayed.
The following measures will help to ensure that any undetected disease is not spread:
Destroy prunings by fire
Cut chestnut branches, stumps etc. should be burnt on site as soon as possible - infected branches can produce new fungal spores for at least a year.
Ensure prunings are not buried - chestnut blight fungus can survive for long periods on buried branches and also survive the heat from a fire on the surface.
Restrict on-farm movements
Use signage to direct farm visitors to park their vehicles in a designated area and avoid the need for them to enter chestnut groves.
Ensure grazing animals are not moved onto your property from known infected areas.
If using contract pruners or other contractors in your nut grove, ensure you know where they have been in the lead up to them entering your property. It is also advisable to get an assurance that the contractor has undertaken appropriate hygiene and biosecurity measures on their vehicles and equipment if they have previously worked in the Restricted Area.
Ensure new propagating material is clean
Keep records of where you source your propagating material and ensure it comes from a property certified to have no visible signs of chestnut blight.
Ensure good hygiene when working with trees
New infections have been noticed around pruning cuts and tree injection points. Protect cut or damaged branches with a pruning paint that contains a fungicide.
If using a chainsaw, remember that sawdust from chainsaws can spread chestnut blight and proper disinfection of the machine can be difficult and time-consuming.
If practical, use handsaws and disinfect them regularly.
Ensure good hygiene when people or equipment move between properties
Make sure contractors have thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated their vehicles, machinery and equipment before entering your property, especially if they have been on other chestnut properties.
Any equipment surface coming into contact with chestnut bark, wood or nuts must be cleaned and disinfected before it leaves or enters your property.
Anyone working with chestnut trees should change into clean clothing and shoes when moving between properties.
Please note that these between-property measures should be seen as the minimum efforts required to maintain an acceptable level of hygiene.
Cleaning and disinfection
Washdown of machinery
Thoroughly clean machinery with high pressure washing (hot water is best). After all soil and organic matter is removed, including underneath and in out-of-the-way places, rinse with a water/disinfectant mix.
Hard surfaces and tools
Thoroughly clean bins, pots, hand tools etc. by washing, before the use of a suitable water/disinfectant mix.
Choice of disinfectants
Consult with your farm chemical supplier to determine a suitable disinfectant for your particular situation. Several options are listed below.
Some quaternary ammonia compounds are effective for surface disinfection, are low in toxicity and generally non-corrosive.
Diluted chlorine bleach (hypochlorite) can be an effective disinfectant, but is corrosive to metals and cloth, is rapidly inactivated by organic matter such as soil and is potentially harmful to users at higher concentrations.
Chlorine disinfectant at 0.5% active chlorine (1 cup to 7 cups water for many commercial chlorine disinfectants) is most effective on clean surfaces but must stay on metal and plastic surfaces for at least one minute. Organic surfaces such as wood will be much more difficult to disinfect with chlorine and require a longer contact time.
Methylated spirits at a suitable concentration (3 cups diluted with 1 cup of water) is an effective disinfectant for hand tools, but is highly flammable and volatile.
Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the use of any disinfectant product. Further information on wash-down methods can be sought from Agriculture Victoria.
Property Identification Codes
A person who owns land on which 20 or more chestnut trees are grown must apply for a plant Property Identification Code (PIC). PICs are free and are compulsory for people with 20 or more chestnut trees.
Plant PICs are used to enable Agriculture Victoria to quickly alert producers of a plant pest or disease outbreak that may impact their business. This assists Agriculture Victoria, producers and industry to respond to plant pest and disease outbreaks more effectively and minimise disruptions to trade.
You can apply for a PIC online or contact the PIC Helpline on 1800 678 779.