Steps to stop pests at vineyards

AS a wine producer, Kel Boynton is well aware of how disease and pests can destroy his livelihood.

Mr Boynton, of Boynton’s Feathertop Winery, said diligence in protecting a winery from such a disaster is well worth the effort.

And he agrees with the steps vineyard owners can take to prevent the spread of disease, recently issued by the Department of Primary Industries Victoria.

“But they are not always practical where a vineyard, such as ours, has a cellar door and visitors are going from winery to winery,” he said.

DPIV horticulture biosecurity officer John Whiting said although regulations were in place for limiting the spread of declared pests and diseases, common threats must be managed on-farm.

“Preventing the appearance of any new pest, disease or weed should be a high priority in any vineyard management plan,” Mr Whiting said.

“The greatest aid to the spread of grapevine pests and diseases is the movement of people, machinery, equipment and planting material between vineyards and from nurseries to vineyards.”

Mr Whiting said actions growers could take to reduce the risk of these movements included installing biosecurity awareness signs, fencing and lockable gates to minimise unwanted movements onto the vineyard; ensuring visitors’ clothing and footwear were clean and providing disinfestation footbaths; and instructing staff on cleaning procedures, pest and disease identification and how to report unusual symptoms. Also, providing a wash-down area where vehicles could be cleaned.

Mr Whiting said unusual pests or diseases should be reported to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

Mr Boynton said it was a matter of vineyard owners doing what they could, as much as was practicable.

“You can put gates up with signs but visitors will still want to walk through a winery and do,” he said.

“In the end, one of the more significant ways pests and disease can be transmitted is by workers going from one vineyard to another.”

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