The movement of machinery is a major cause of invasive plant spread in Victoria. Many isolated outbreaks are a result of poor vehicle, machinery and equipment hygiene.
Machinery hygiene is an effective way for land owners and industry groups to minimise the spread of invasive plants in the course of their work. Being responsible for minimising the spread of weeds and weed seeds though techniques such as machinery hygiene can reduce the risk of incurring penalties under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act) while promoting a positive image for your business in the community.
Preventing the spread of weeds through industry best practice
The department is working with industry to build capacity for the prevention of noxious weeds as a result of business activities. The Civil Contractors Federation, in partnership with the the department, VicRoads and the Association of Land Development Engineers (ALDE) have developed the Guide for Machinery Hygiene for Civil Construction.
The Guide provides information about invasive plant and plant disease management and is suitable for use by civil contractors, engineers, municipal councils and State authorities. The guide is complimented by an online training resource that introduces users to the principles of machinery hygiene, by recommending methods for detecting and removing contaminant plant parts and seeds from soil and machinery.
To access a copy of The Guide for Machinery Hygiene for Civil Construction visit the Civil Contractors Federation website.
Watch an overview of the Machinery hygiene online induction training.
Machinery hygiene principles
The CaLP Act governs the responsibilities for the control of noxious weeds. Under the CaLP Act it is illegal (without a permit from the Secretary) to transport or deposit onto land, declared noxious weeds that are capable of growing. This applies even to the seeds or plant fragments of a noxious weed that may be on a vehicle.
Implementing actions to minimise weed spread can reduce the risk to contractors of prosecution under the CaLP Act as well as create a competitive business advantage. Failure to comply with the CaLP Act can incur fines and require the delivery of corrective measures, therefore increasing costs to projects and businesses.
Pathways of spread
Potential high risk pathways for the spread of invasive plants include:
- contaminated vehicles
- contaminated machinery
- contaminated goods (eg gravel)
Planning to prevent spread
Prior to commencement of works, site assessments should be conducted to make appraisal of the invasive plants present and the feasibility of control.
Site assessments should determine appropriate management procedures to be implemented to minimise invasive plant spread and should nominate a suitable clean down area.
Critical contamination areas
The types of machinery that cause major weed contamination concerns are:
- harvesting equipment
- tractors and implements
- motor cars and motorbikes
- earthmoving machinery
There are also certain areas of a machine or vehicle that require particular attention as seeds can easily lodge behind or within them. The particular mechanical and structural components to be careful of include:
- buckets and blades
- tyres/ axels and differentials
- within slashing mulching and
- chassis and body
- between dual wheels
- ledges and frames
- inside drivers cab
Clean down options
The process of inspecting and cleaning machinery will vary according to its type, the working environment and the level of contamination.
Inspect the vehicle when leaving a weedy site, if material and/or soil is present clean-down procedures should be followed.
If jobs are planned adequately the cleaning of equipment and vehicles should not need to be so frequent or through.
The most effective options for the cleaning of machinery include:
- Wash-down: achieved by applying water to machinery at a high pressure using a pressure cleaner or spray tank and pump
- Air blast: assists decontamination in those hard to reach areas by using a compressor with hose
- Vacuuming: can help remove contaminants from the interior surfaces of machinery
- Physical removal: most appropriate for contaminants that adhere to machinery. Often undertaken prior or at the completion of wash down or air blast.
The following considerations will minimise further infestation and achieve maximum hygiene standards:
- Selection of cleaning site:
- the clean down of vehicles and machinery on site prevents contaminants being spread
- sites should be close to exit/entry points and clear of watercourses and drainage lines
- Appropriate disposal of waste and contaminants resulting from cleaning (permits required to transport off site):
- contaminants and waste are best destroyed on
the cleaning site where possible
- contaminants and waste are best destroyed on
- Use of vehicle/machinery log books: valuable tool to demonstrate best practice and compliance to clients and regulatory bodies
- Weed hygiene declarations: incorporate with products to be exported
- Guarantee from supplier: guarantees will ensure soil and materials entering a site are free of contaminants.
Everyone has a responsibility to ensure machinery and equipment is checked for possible contaminants and that appropriate clean down procedures are implemented.