Don't let hygiene hinder harvest

Countryman

Graingrowers and harvest contractors are reminded to pay attention to harvest hygiene and prevent any destructive pests from threatening the State's crop.

Department of Agriculture and Food grains biosecurity officer Jeff Russell urged growers to ensure their grain harvesting and storage equipment was properly cleaned of grain residue, insects and weed seeds.

Mr Russell, whose position is funded by Plant Health Australia, said silos, field bins, augers and trucks could all harbour pests and weeds.

"Grain residues can build up in equipment and machinery, which provides a safe haven for grain storage pests that can be difficult to remove if they have been left sitting for a few months," he said. "It's best to sacrifice the first few kilograms of grain to come out of a harvester at the beginning of the season to minimise the risk of a pest infestation."

Mr Russell recommended running or blowing a small amount of diatomaceous earth (DE) through equipment and machinery.

"DE dust will kill any pests hiding in the nooks and crannies of the equipment and bins," he said.

Harvest contractors have additional responsibilities and challenges to maintain grain hygiene as they move from property to property.

Mr Russell advised growers to ask contractors about their grain hygiene practises to ensure any insects or weeds were not transferred to or from their property.

"Before they start work ask a few simple questions, like has the machinery been cleaned, what was the last property the equipment was used on and were there any weed problems, and has DE been run through the machinery," he said. "Also, make sure vehicles and machinery are cleaned of soil on tyres, mud guards and undercarriage and that the radiator is free from weed seeds."

A dedicated wash down area is also advised, including a high pressure air/water unit, which can be used on the way in and out of the property.

Mr Russell urged growers with any weed or pest problems to advise their contractors before they commence work on their property.

"If the contractors know about any problems, they can either avoid the area or leave it until last to harvest," he said. "This will minimise the spread of these problems to other parts of the property.

"A small amount of time ensuring farm and grain storage hygiene is up to scratch could save growers a lot of time and money in the long run."

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