Tuesday, 10 August 2021 15:30

Biosecurity update: Developing a Vineyard Biosecurity Plan

Written by  Jim Herdman
Pask Winery Pask Winery

During August, I will be on the road attending the Spray Days events around the country.

The main aim of the biosecurity session at Spray Days is to help members who would like assistance developing a biosecurity plan for their vineyard. I have copies of New Zealand Winegrowers' (NZW) biosecurity resources to give to members who attend these sessions.

Biosecurity planning should be a reasonably straightforward process for members who have not completed a plan before. Working through the biosecurity plan template and seeing where you can improve awareness, processes, and seeing where you can improve awareness, processes, and infrastructure should take no longer than an hour or two at the most. Implementation can be undertaken over time, allowing time to budget for any costs that may be incurred.

Biosecurity is about protecting New Zealand from the risks posed by unwanted pests and diseases. All NZW members should be a part of the biosecurity system and should be playing their role to protect our industry. Biosecurity threats could affect vineyard profitability, jobs, and the community. The next significant threat could be here already, undetected and spreading. You have the power to protect your livelihood and investments. Vineyard owners, managers, and staff need to manage risk to prevent the introduction of unwanted organisms, prevent their spread if they do arrive, and always maintain vigilance so they can be detected quickly. Growers also need to play their part in ensuring people who come onto the vineyard, such as contractors, tradespeople, and other visitors, are aware of any biosecurity risks they might pose or encounter.

The Vineyard Biosecurity Plan template has been created as a resource for NZW members to aid with development of a plan. It outlines current best practices in a range of key areas. However, each vineyard is different, as is the level of risk each manager or owner will be comfortable with accepting. Growers should develop a plan for their site consistent with the level of biosecurity risk management they wish to implement, which addresses the key risks for their vineyard. Informed risk management is key to successful biosecurity management.

Growers can control the entry of pests and diseases onto their vineyard by taking steps to manage the movement of people, vehicles, machinery, stock, seeds, and plant material as they pass through the vineyard gate. The Vineyard Biosecurity Plan template will enable you to develop a plan to help protect your vineyard against a biosecurity incursion and to identify an incursion quickly if it happens.

The template is broken down into nine actions. It links with the Vineyard Biosecurity Guidelines for Best Practice, which is also available and is designed as a training aid for vineyard staff and contractors.

The nine actions in the Vineyard Biosecurity Plan template are:

  • Promote vineyard biosecurity awareness. Biosecurity awareness usually  costs very little; the only costs are staff time to get up to speed with pests and diseases threats, possible vectors using the NZW resources, and signage or sign-in protocols for vineyard entry points.
  • Brief visitors, personnel, and contractors. Sign-in procedures for most vineyards should be part of "business as usual," and incorporating biosecurity in this process should be reasonably easy for most organisations. If you are not already doing so, consider incorporating an electronic sign-in process that includes some biosecurity notifications.
  • Undertake vineyard biosecurity surveillance. Surveillance is part of your core business, and incorporating biosecurity threats should be an easy add-on for most vineyard operations. Ensure your staff, contractors, and crop scouts know about the most unwanted exotic pests and diseases, and how to Catch it, Snap it, Report it (to 0800 80 99 66) if they see anything suspicious.
  • Vehicle and machinery management. Vehicle and machinery hygiene and tracking is the key to good biosecurity practice. If you engage contractors, discuss biosecurity with them and ensure their equipment has been cleaned prior to entering the vineyard. Another critical point to remember is to check and clean, where appropriate, any new items that may come from overseas or areas with known biosecurity risks.
  • Manage biological materials, products and supplies. Ensure any new vines are certified to the Grafted Grapevine Standard.Tracking and tracing any other biological material onsite is also essential. Make sure you are sourcing this material from reputable suppliers, and it has been checked for anything that may compromise vineyard biosecurity before it enters the vineyard.
  • Manage stock. Grazing stock can be a valuable tool in the vineyard, especially sheep, but this comes with biosecurity risks. The most important point to consider is knowing where the stock has been prior to entering the vineyard to ensure it is not introducing any pests.There are also regulatory considerations; make sure you are aware of your responsibilities.
  • Install and maintain washdown facilities. Installing and maintaining a quality washdown facility on the vineyard is a critical part of vineyard infrastructure and an essential part of any biosecurity action plan. If you have not yet installed a washdown facility, planning to do so should be part of your long-term capital plan.
  • Undertake tool and equipment hygiene. Tool hygiene should bepart of best practice in any vineyard. Keeping tools well maintained, clean, sharp,and sanitised should be part of business as usual. Again when engaging contractors, discuss biosecurity and make sure they are following best practice.
  • Manage biosecurity at harvest. Harvest is the busiest part of the vineyard calendar, and it is easy to forget about biosecurity when the pressure is on to complete tasks. Technology can help with tracking and tracing people and machinery, but there is no real shortcut to hygiene protocols.

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