A group of 50 New Zealand companies have signed a first-of-its-kind pledge to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.
Taken together, these elements encouraged members to look ahead and get them thinking about how the things they do on the vineyard everyday are critical to help them protect their assets from biosecurity risk and adverse events that threaten industry sustainability.
The future of biosecurity risk management
The first biosecurity session challenged members to look to a future where biosecurity practices, such as those outlined in the New Zealand Winegrowers - Ensuring Vineyard Biosecurity – Guidelines for Best Practice, had become an important part of our industry’s sustainability culture.
The session highlighted that the New Zealand wine industry has a proud history of pest and disease management, where members have adapted how they do things to protect their vineyards against threats such as Chilean Needle Grass and GLRaV – 3. Often the measures we take to manage these threats have a broader application and there is no real boundary between pest and disease management practice and biosecurity.
The session also examined the importance of being proactive on the vineyard. Using Pierce’s Disease in California as an example it showed that even a really well organised and implemented biosecurity response is often only going to result in sub-optimal solutions for effected individuals. Taking steps now, such as only purchasing vines certified under the New Zealand Winegrowers Grafted Grapevine Standard or having discussions with your suppliers of vineyard equipment and contract labor about the importance of clean vehicles and machinery could be crucial in preventing unnecessary loss. With biosecurity, everyone has a role to play, it needs to be part of wine industry business as usual. Managing biosecurity risk is not “someone else’s job”.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Biosecurity Response Exercise
This session was a window for members into how the wine industry could be involved in a biosecurity response to one of our highest threat biosecurity risks, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). The exercise simulated the discovery of a potential breeding population of BMSB in a fictitious Martinborough vineyard in the lead up to harvest 2019. The session showed that during a biosecurity response there are a wide range of potential risks to manage, including biological risk, risks to human health and safety, risks around communications and liaison and potential risks to overseas market access. The exercise highlighted just how crucial it is for the wine industry to be a partner in the Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response. If we weren’t involved other groups would make decisions that could impact the livelihoods of our members.
The exercise also showed that during a biosecurity response, it’s often all hands to the pumps. Biosecurity responses are labor intensive and our members have a range of skills that could be really crucial to assist.
Lessons from the Kaikoura Earthquake: Promoting resilience in the wine industry
It has been almost two years since the Kaikoura Earthquake rocked the Marlborough and North Canterbury wine regions. This session examined how ongoing research, led by Landcare Research and supported by New Zealand Winegrowers is bringing together lessons learned from across winery design and construction; the financial and insurance sector and rural support organisations involved to promote tools that will increase overall industry resilience to adverse events.
A key theme of the session was that supporting your people through the aftermath of an adverse event was absolutely crucial to promoting ongoing resilience. People react differently to the stresses caused by their personal experience. Taking the time to listen and giving people the opportunity to share their experience with others seemed to be critical in promoting their welfare.
The session also showed that readiness matters. Taking simple steps like, assessing how exposed different people in your business are to seismic risks while carrying out their job; checking the level of insurance cover you have, or even drafting a simple disaster recovery plan could be critical in boosting your resilience to an adverse event.
Conclusion: Think Smart – Look Ahead!
Overall, this year’s conference highlighted that adverse events, such as biosecurity incursions or earthquakes could cause major disruption and were a key threat to ongoing industry sustainability. The biosecurity and emergency management sessions all highlighted that as part of “Think Smart – Look Ahead” all members of the wine industry should take steps to help promote resilience and mitigate these risks.
Remember, as the weather warms, if you see anything unusual in the vineyard; Catch It; Snap It; Report It!