Farm Management

Getting biosecurity zoning right

Farm Map - Image courtesy of Plant Health Australia
Farm Map - Image courtesy of Plant Health Australia

Zoning your farm should be a priority to secure your farm against diseases, pests and weeds – but it’s not an easy task to retrofit biosecurity measures on a farm that was set up with other priorities in mind.

Most people don’t have the luxury of planning the property layout from scratch and deciding where it’s best to place everything that you need to run your business efficiently. You have to work around existing roads, fences, houses, sheds and other facilities.

Stuart Kearns, Manager Farm Biosecurity Programs at Plant Health Australia, says that farm zoning isn’t a straightforward process.

“It may take a few adjustments before you get it right,” Stuart said.

Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to work out where to place biosecurity zones – access, separation and production (or exclusion) – and checkpoints on your property,

“It’s a bit of a balancing act. You want to make sure you are taking the necessary precautions, but not doing things that don’t provide any benefits to your biosecurity status,” Stuart said.

Rather than installing permanent fixtures straight away, temporary alternatives can be used to test if the zones you are thinking of putting in place will be practical and effective.

“There is no right answer to a question about where zones and checkpoints should be placed: it’s what works for you in your situation. But the decision can be made easier by first putting a few of your ideas to the test.”

“Before you make a final decision, and maybe spend some money putting something more permanent in place, you can try a few options.”

A practical and budget friendly way to work out where things should go is to use garden stakes, flagging tape or spray paint to trial the effectiveness of access, separation and production zones.

You’ll soon work out if that’s the best place to put your parking area, or your first choice for a washdown area for vehicles was a good idea or not. If people aren’t paying attention to your signs, perhaps they need to be moved.

“Maybe you don’t need a sump for your vehicle washdown area because it’s only used occasionally and a tail-dam that accumulates water runoff that is allowed to evaporate is enough,” Stuart said.

Every farm situation is different: remember to think outside the square and use your creativity to secure your farm.

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