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Ground spreaders take biosecurity risk-prevention seriously

Ground spreaders take biosecurity risk-prevention seriously

The New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) has developed a set of bio-security guidelines to prevent the spread of weed and pest diseases between farms. The biosecurity protocol gives both farmers and ground spreaders sound practical advice to minimise the risk of spreading any unwanted seeds or bacterial disease on fertiliser spreaders.

While the outbreak of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has raised general awareness of on farm biosecurity, the fertiliser groundspread industry has long been aware of spreader truck hygiene between farms. M.bovis is the latest biosecurity incursion but is less likely to be transferred from farm to farm than weeds like Velvet Leaf or Chilean Needle Grass.

The guidelines recognise that farmers are concerned about the risk that supplier trucks moving from farm to farm may pose. They seek to reassure farmers that the ground spread industry is committed to making its risk prevention system a standard, minimum practice.

NZGFA President, Dean Brooks, explains that the guidelines were refocused after ground spreading companies reported calls from farmers asking what they were doing in light of the M.bovis outbreak.

“Our customers are concerned about protecting their farm borders from M.bovis as well as the other more easily transmutable organisms already present on some farms. Those who have been affected are equally concerned that disease does not spread from their farm to another. Farmers have every right to ask suppliers about the measures being taken and, as an industry, we agree we need to take responsibility and help farm owners manage this difficult situation.”

Based around a policy of ‘clean on, clean off’, all spreader trucks are washed and disinfected before going onto a farm and again before leaving, the guidelines recommend three Cs – Contact, Clean, Contain.

Contact – Ground spreaders will communicate with farmers and farm managers ahead of a spreader vehicle arriving on site. This will ensure that individual farm protocol is discussed and met.

Clean – Spreader trucks will be clean and free of contaminants upon arrival. If additional sanitation and washing down is required, farmers are asked to provide appropriate facilities, such as a high pressure hose and a designated wash down area. Similarly, before exiting a farm, ground spreaders will again need to access these facilities to ensure their vehicles are clean.

Contain – Ground spreaders will support farmers in the containment of contaminants on individual farms. The ground spread industry sees the containment of contaminants as paramount to reducing the risk of the disease spreading. As such, spreader vehicles will not leave any farm without first washing off contaminants including animal manure, soil and plant material and fertiliser residues. Returning to base and hosing down there is not good practice.

Mr Brooks adds that only by farms and suppliers working together is there a chance that the farming industry can maintain free of unwanted weeds and other organisms.

“We are saying to farmers that we are prepared to do everything we can to ensure that we only spread fertiliser – and don’t spread unwanted organisms. But to do this we need farmers to discuss with us their own procedures and, importantly, provide adequate wash down facilities for our truck drivers. Farmers also need to ensure they have a contaminant management plan in force which includes the safe disposal of washed down contaminants.”

For more information about the NZGFA, visit www.nzgfa.co.nz


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