WITH the challenging and dry conditions this year, croppers are advised to stay one step ahead of pests by using on-farm biosecurity practices before and during sowing.
Grains Farm Biosecurity Program biosecurity officer Jim Moran said simple steps could save croppers money in the long run, by reducing the introduction and spread of pests, diseases and weeds on-farm.
Eliminate the 'green bridge'
Before sowing, Mr Moran recommends controlling weeds and volunteer plants from previous crops to break pest breeding cycles and reduce weed seed banks.
"It's the easiest and most effective practice to protect this year's crop as it will help to control insects, fungal diseases and weeds that are hard to kill or herbicide resistant," he said.
"Removing the green bridge can also reduce the ability of rust spores to infect emerging seedlings.
"Don't forget to control areas along the verges of fences and roadsides. They're often overlooked, but are an ideal spot for diseases and pests to multiply and infect your crop."
Clean machinery before sowing
Mr Moran says it's also important to clean your farm machinery so you don't spread weeds, pests and diseases around your property.
"The nooks and crannies in your farm machinery are good hiding place for weeds, pests and diseases as they can easily trap seed, plant material or soil," he said.
"As this is the easiest way to move pathogens, pests or weed seeds around your property, it is best to ensure that your machinery is thoroughly cleaned before sowing starts."
He also suggests getting any contractors or agronomists you use for pre-sowing spraying, spreading of fertiliser or seeding to make sure their machinery is very clean before working.
"It may be necessary to provide a dedicated wash down area with equipment. Watch this area for anything unusual emerging in the following weeks," he said.
"Also tell contractors about any weed or pest issues on your farm and where they are to reduce the risk of spreading the problem to other areas of your farm or to someone else's."
Keeping clean during sowing
While sowing, Mr Moran recommends having an air compressor or a high-pressure washer so you, or the contractor, can clean machinery between paddocks and properties.
"It is essential to maintain farm hygiene practices on your property during sowing," he said.
"Giving things a quick clean before leaving one paddock and moving to the next can significantly reduce your risk of spreading soil-borne pathogens and weed seed throughout your farm.
"It's also a good idea to leave the weedier paddocks until last in your rotation to reduce the risk of spreading the weeds into uninfected areas."
- Details: farmbiosecurity.com.au