Farm biose­cu­rity un­der GIA

It has been es­ti­mated that plant pests are re­spon­si­ble for losses in po­ten­tial farm in­come of up to 15%.


Con­trol­ling pests to min­imise crop loss could be considered best prac­tice or it could be considered farm biose­cu­rity. Ei­ther way it makes good eco­nomic sense. The more for­mal def­i­ni­tion of farm biose­cu­rity is man­age­ment prac­tices and ac­tiv­i­ties that are car­ried out on your prop­erty to pre­vent the en­try and spread of pests. Ul­ti­mately, farm biose­cu­rity is about pro­tect­ing your liveli­hood, your in­dus­try and that of your neigh­bours. Farm biose­cu­rity is your re­spon­si­bil­ity, and that of ev­ery per­son work­ing on or vis­it­ing your prop­erty.

Grow­ers of veg­eta­bles, par­tic­u­larly in a green­house en­vi­ron­ment, face unique chal­lenges when it comes to man­ag­ing pests. There is no nat­u­ral weath­er­ing to re­move de­bris from pre­vi­ous crops, and crops are grown rel­a­tively in­ten­sively, which can in­crease the risk of pest in­ci­dence as well as the like­li­hood of spread. What this means is that veg­etable grow­ers un­der­take farm biose­cu­rity as a mat­ter of course due to the en­vi­ron­ment they are op­er­at­ing in.

When sign­ing up to GIA (Gov­ern­ment In­dus­try Agree­ment for Biose­cu­rity Readi­ness and Re­sponse), Veg­eta­bles New Zealand In­cor­po­rated (VNZ Inc) com­mit­ted to rais­ing aware­ness of biose­cu­rity and how it can be mon­i­tored and man­aged amongst veg­etable grow­ers. Farm biose­cu­rity is a prac­ti­cal way for all grow­ers to demon­strate aware­ness of and com­mit­ment to man­ag­ing biose­cu­rity. Al­though im­por­tant, farm biose­cu­rity does not need to be oner­ous. The fol­low­ing are some ar­eas to con­sider in the con­text of farm biose­cu­rity. It may be that you al­ready have it cov­ered – if so, give your­self a pat on the back. If not, con­sider how you can im­ple­ment some of the fol­low­ing con­cepts into your day-to-day op­er­a­tions.


Vir­tu­ally ev­ery grower in New Zealand could name fruit fly as a biose­cu­rity threat but do you know the other pests of great­est threat to the veg­etable in­dus­try? On be­half of VNZ Inc., Mar­ket Ac­cess So­lu­tionz has de­vel­oped fact sheets for some of the pests that are the most likely to en­ter New Zealand and/or would have the most sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic im­pact on veg­etable grow­ers. These fact sheets can be found on the VNZ Inc web­site (https://www.freshveg­eta­ En­sure that rel­e­vant staff are fa­mil­iar with pests you usu­ally as­so­ciate with your crop and prop­erty and those that they should be on the look-out for. Dis­play posters of pests nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with your crop and posters of ex­otic pests to look for.


Any plant ma­te­rial moved onto your prop­erty can be a po­ten­tial source of pests. Mon­i­tor any plant­ing ma­te­rial that comes onto your prop­erty. En­sure you are sourc­ing high qual­ity seeds and seedlings from a trusted source and in­spect prior to plant­ing for any signs of pests. Keep­ing records of plant­ings (and other in­puts) en­ables you to trace back and trace for­ward if nec­es­sary (i.e. where has it come from, where did it get planted).


Work­ers and Vis­i­tors

Work­ers, vis­i­tors and equip­ment can spread pests onto and around your prop­erty. Make sure work­ers on your prop­erty are aware of hy­giene prac­tices for them­selves, equip­ment and ve­hi­cles. This can eas­ily be in­cluded as part of staff in­duc­tions. Sig­nage can be put up to en­sure vis­i­tors are aware of any spe­cific hy­giene or biose­cu­rity re­quire­ments you may have.

When pos­si­ble use your own ve­hi­cles to trans­port vis­i­tors around your prop­erty. Stay on es­tab­lished tracks. En­cour­age vis­i­tors to ac­cess your prop­erty by only one or two routes. Limit ac­cess to pro­duc­tion sites to re­quired per­son­nel.

Re­move of Waste and Dry Clean­ing Re­mov­ing old, un­healthy or un­wanted plant ma­te­rial is es­sen­tial as it can be a ma­jor source of con­tam­i­na­tion. Con­sider how plant ma­te­rial is dis­posed of – do not leave it sit­ting near pro­duc­tion sites or green­houses. Also, re­move any other as­so­ci­ated

equip­ment such as trays, pots and strings. The ef­fec­tive­ness of dis­in­fec­tants and sani­tis­ers may be re­duced if there are high lev­els of soil, so the dry clean­ing of dust and soil is ad­vised in a green­house en­vi­ron­ment.

Pre-Clean­ing and Sani­tis­ing (Green­house)

Once dry clean­ing and re­moval of any con­tam­i­nants has been un­der­taken, high lev­els of in­fec­tive ma­te­rial may still re­main. Clean­ing us­ing de­ter­gents or sani­tis­ers will re­duce the spread of dis­ease in wash wa­ter and may re­duce the time re­quired to clean by up to 60%.

Wa­ter Sys­tem and Equip­ment Sani­tis­ing

All ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems may con­tain some con­tam­i­na­tion. Flush­ing ir­ri­ga­tion lines af­ter any treat­ment will min­imise the like­li­hood of con­tam­i­na­tion.

En­sure equip­ment moved from green­house to green­house or pro­duc­tion site is cleaned and sani­tised ap­pro­pri­ately as this can be a ma­jor source for trans­fer of con­tam­i­na­tion.

Dis­in­fec­tion (Green­house)

Even af­ter clean­ing and sani­tis­ing, the level of dis­ease present could be suf­fi­cient for it to re-estab­lish. En­sur­ing all sur­faces are thor­oughly wet with dis­in­fec­tant is the most likely way to break the cy­cle of in­fec­tion.

Fog­ging and Ae­rial Dis­in­fec­tion (Green­house)

To dis­in­fect any ar­eas that may be in­ac­ces­si­ble or have been over­looked, the green­house should be fogged, in­clud­ing any stor­age ar­eas. Reg­u­lar fog­ging dur­ing the growth phase of the crop may also be ben­e­fi­cial.

Gen­eral Hy­giene

There are a num­ber of other ways to min­imise or man­age trans­fer of con­tam­i­na­tion around your prop­erty and the wider re­gion:

• Sani­tise prun­ing knives.

• Foot dips or mats soaked in dis­in­fec­tant placed in ap­pro­pri­ate lo­ca­tions around your prop­erty and reg­u­larly changed.

• Hand hy­giene – vis­i­tors as well as work­ers should be re­quired to wash their hands.

• Wheel dips for equip­ment.

• Dis­in­fec­tion of paths and ar­eas around the green­house.

• Clean cloth­ing should be worn and no smok­ing should be al­lowed on-site.


Know what is nor­mal and mon­i­tor your crops. The mon­i­tor­ing fre­quency will be de­pen­dent on growth stage, weather con­di­tions, and the pres­ence of pests. In­crease the level of mon­i­tor­ing if you have any con­cerns. This can be as sim­ple as a walk through the green­house or site, or part of a more for­mal crop mon­i­tor­ing pro­gramme. Know­ing how your crop usu­ally ap­pears, and what the signs and symp­toms of your usual pests look like will en­able you to no­tice any­thing un­usual. Take photos or keep records of any­thing un­usual if you think you need to. Early de­tec­tion of a new pest can greatly in­crease the chances of erad­i­ca­tion be­fore

it es­tab­lishes.

Fol­low in­struc­tions when ap­ply­ing agri­chem­i­cals. The mis­use of agri­chem­i­cals can lead to crops de­vel­op­ing re­sis­tance, which can lead to on­go­ing biose­cu­rity prob­lems. If you sus­pect pes­ti­cide re­sis­tance, get ad­di­tional ad­vice from an agron­o­mist or chem­i­cal sup­plier.

Work with sick or sus­pect ar­eas last as this will min­imise the risk of spread­ing pests if they are present. De­stroy un­healthy plant ma­te­rial by bury­ing or burn­ing to en­sure that in­fected plant ma­te­rial does not spread pests.


Be aware of laws and reg­u­la­tions es­tab­lished to pro­tect the veg­etable in­dus­try and other hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­tries in your re­gion and sup­port them through your prac­tices.


If you see any un­usual pests or plant symp­toms re­port them im­me­di­ately to the MPI Ex­otic Pest and Dis­ease Hot­line: 0800 80 99 66.

On the Veg­eta­bles NZ Inc. web­site (https://www. freshveg­eta­ there is a Pro­duc­tion Site Biose­cu­rity Best Prac­tice Check­list that ex­plores the con­cepts above in more de­tail. Com­plet­ing the check­list will give you the op­por­tu­nity to as­sess what you are al­ready do­ing and what you might want to con­sider in­clud­ing in your grow­ing op­er­a­tion in fu­ture.

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