Sugarcane producers have a new guide to farm biosecurity measures to reduce the risks of weeds, pests, and diseases impacting production following the release of the Biosecurity Manual for Sugarcane Producers.
The manual is designed for use by farmers, as well as contractors, millers, researchers, and consultants working in the sugarcane industry. It shows simple measures to minimise the risk of introducing and spreading weeds, pests, and diseases onto properties.
The Biosecurity Manual for Sugarcane Producers was developed by Plant Health Australia (PHA), in conjunction with Sugar Research Australia (SRA), CANEGROWERS, the Australian Sugar Milling Council, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. It was supported by funding from SRA.
PHA’s Program Manager, Broadacre Cropping, Dr Sharyn Taylor, said that the manual is new for the industry.
“Sugarcane growers haven’t had a guide like this before,” Dr Taylor said.
“PHA worked with experts in sugarcane production to provide information that will help growers prevent new pests from spreading onto a farm.
“The guide gives specific advice on what producers need to be careful about, including choosing approved varieties of cane, cleaning equipment and vehicles and restricting movements of vehicles and people away from production areas. Reporting new or unusual pest symptoms on your farm could minimise longer term impacts for your farm and the industry as a whole,” Dr Taylor added.
Cairns district sugarcane grower Mr John Ferrando welcomed the new guide, saying biosecurity awareness is crucial for both maintaining a productive crop, and for the long-term sustainability of the industry.
“Feral pigs do lots of damage to the cane here,” Mr Ferrando said.
“We also know that things can go horribly wrong when there is an incursion of an exotic pest or disease. It could take years for the industry to get on top of the problem, or worse, there could be no chemical controls for a new pest. So it’s far better that we be vigilant and keep things clean to begin with, which this manual can assist with.”
SRA Key Focus Area Leader for Biosecurity, Dr Andrew Ward, said the guide also explained changes to biosecurity obligations in Queensland and NSW, which is important information for growers, millers and other industry stakeholders.
“The changes to the Biosecurity Acts in Queensland and NSW have increased the responsibility for everyone to reduce the risks posed by pests, diseases, and weeds,” Dr Ward said.
“Further information on biosecurity obligations is available by contacting your respective state government department, productivity services office, or SRA.”
The General Biosecurity Obligation in Queensland, and the soon to be introduced General Biosecurity Duty in NSW, both mandate precautions on farms and along supply chains.
This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.