AUSVEG Farm Biosecurity Project delivers positive impact

January 23, 2023

The AUSVEG Farm Biosecurity Project, a collaboration between Plant Health Australia (PHA) and AUSVEG, continues to strengthen the vegetable and potato industry’s preparedness, response, and management of national biosecurity risks.

As part of the MOU between PHA and AUSVEG to promote on-farm biosecurity and better outcomes for growers, this is the third iteration of the project and has been delivering on-going value. The second phase of this project, funded through the AUSVEG-PHA National Vegetable and Potato Biosecurity Levy, kicked off in July 2021, after the successful completion of the first phase. Phase 2 focuses on recognising the importance of urban biosecurity and creating research, development and extension programs for farm biosecurity.

“The project continues to promote the shared responsibility of all key stakeholders to improve biosecurity resilience and increase on-farm preparedness measures implemented by Australian growers,” said Sarah Corcoran, CEO of PHA.

The project has positively impacted both at macro and micro level by effectively raising industry awareness and understanding of the biosecurity threats affecting vegetables and potatoes, while increasing vital face-to-face connection with growers to discuss on-farm practices, hygiene and concerns.

Over the past 12-months, the project achieved all milestone deliverables. Most notably, the biosecurity officers delivered 15 face-to-face workshops, visited 72 growers in five states and territories, and attended 22 field days, meetings and other industry events.

Key biosecurity messages such as information sessions on priority pests, demonstrations on new diagnostic tools and the latest R&D developments were delivered to industry through face-to-face workshops, online webinars, speaking engagements at industry events and visits to growers across Australia.

“The willingness of growers to engage with the biosecurity team demonstrates an increasing recognition of the project and its objectives,” said Sarah.

“Online and in-person programs have enabled the biosecurity team to engage effectively, and they plan to continue investigating new ways to communicate with emerging growers and further building on existing relationships” she said.

Communication and collaboration between AUSVEG, state and federal agricultural departments, regional vegetable and potato industry bodies and other horticultural industries have strengthened considerably, resulting in more efficient and effective dissemination of biosecurity information.

“As a result, exotic pest and disease detections have increased and have led to successful eradications in urban environments,” said Sarah.

Valuable relationships have also been fostered with local and regional agronomists, councils, research bodies, service providers and non-grower industry representatives, furthering reach and engagement and providing home and community gardeners with access to important information and resources.

Communication has also played a significant role in the project and the biosecurity officers have used traditional, online and social media to convey key biosecurity messages, priority pest updates and other important, relevant information.

Over the 12-month period, the AUSVEG Biosecurity and Crop protection webpage had 84,867 visitors and 89 media mentions, resulting in a total audience reach of over 2 million. AUSVEG also published nine articles in print media, produced 31 online articles and Twitter followers increased by 10%.

Numerous resources were also developed over the milestone period, including the publication of a Guide to Security for Home and Community Gardens, finalisation of a four-page guide on brown marmorated stink bug, a silver leaf whitefly fact sheet, development of a fact sheet for varroa mite and a draft foot bath guide.

The project and MOU are scheduled to renew in July 2023.