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Biosecurity on Grain Farms

August 26, 2016

By: John Ippolito, Regional Crop Specialist, Kindersley

Biosecurity practices have been common on intensive livestock operations for a long time.  Biosecurity on a grain farm is a relatively new concept for many, mainly as a result of grain farming not being conducted in confined spaces and being more difficult to implement.

Biosecurity is a series of management practices that are designed to prevent, minimize, and control the introduction and spread of plant pests. On grain farms the introduction of pests cannot always be controlled as they are spread by wind or wildlife.  However, there are some pests, that at the very least, the risk of introduction and spread can be minimized if not controlled. 

For example, plant diseases such as clubroot and Aphanomyces are spread from field to field by movement of infected soils on equipment.  Weed seeds are another pest where biosecurity practices can prevent the introduction and spread of new weed species or herbicide tolerant biotypes of existing weeds.

Producers should start with an evaluation of current practices and determine what the potential risks are to their farm.  From this point, they can implement strategies or practices that either reduce or eliminate those risks.  The chart below shows a few examples.

Potential Vectors

Key Risks

Risk Mitigation Tools

Seed

Introduction of new weed species

Seed analysis prior to purchase

Soil

Introduction of soil borne diseases

Cleaning of equipment between fields

Controlling access by other users

Using equipment last on fields known to 
be infested with a soil borne pathogen

Equipment

Introduction of new pests

Spread of pests such as herbicide resistant weeds

Restricted access of  equipment if not cleaned


This may seem to be an extremely difficult task on a grain farm.  However, producers should keep in mind that some of these pests will not go away once introduced and may require a change in disease or weed control practices for a long time into the future.  This is also something that land owners should consider, as the practices of tenants can have implications for rental value in the future as well.

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