Plant Health Australia is aiming to raise awareness among grain carriers that dumping grain on the roadside is illegal not only because it creates an eyesore, but more critically it poses a serious biosecurity risk.
The Victorian Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions Grains Farm Biosecurity Officer, Jim Moran, said that dumped grain provides an untreated, unmonitored, unmanaged and very attractive site for stored grain insects and disease to thrive and spread into neighbouring paddocks and farms, creating a significant biosecurity risk.
“Dumped grain can be a food source for birds and vermin such as mice and wild pigs which build in numbers and infest and damage nearby crops and grain storages,” said Moran.
“Vermin can also carry seed to other areas where it becomes a weed or vector for pests and diseases.”
As the grain germinates, Moran said it provides an ideal green bridge for the early build-up of fungal diseases such as rusts, which can cause substantial yield losses to grain growers.
“These illegal grain dumps are often found along transport corridors to and from ports where they provide an ideal pathway for hitch-hiker pests to make their way from an urban port to a farm, where they can become established in the grain production system,” he said.
A question to be asked is why would anyone dump grain on the side of a road?
“Some transporters are concerned about having excess weight and therefore not complying with the Heavy Vehicle National Law – which is a breach of chain of responsibility (CoR) laws,” said Moran.
Grain is also dumped in smaller quantities at roadsides by drivers who have delivered to seaports or other grain receival sites and are unable to find facilities to sweep out trucks and trailers – a requirement under the Transport Code of Practice – before reloading with fertiliser or other commodities from a different facility.
Moran said ensuring correct weights on vehicles was everyone’s responsibility under CoR. He urged farmers, carriers and transport drivers to undertake some simple measures to alleviate the need to dump grain on the roadside.
“To avoid overloading, a more accurate measure of weight is required,” he said.
“This could include installing a permanent or temporary on-farm weighbridge, gaining access to a nearby off-site weighbridge or installing and using an onboard weighing system on trucks and trailers.”
According to Moran, ensuring trucks come clean and go clean is also vital.
“While this is an ongoing matter between the grains industry and receival sites, if there is left over grain that must be disposed of, it needs to be done in a responsible manner,” he said.
“It can be burned, buried or bagged and reused – perhaps as livestock feed if it is uncontaminated.
“Biosecurity is maintained if everyone along the grain supply chain follows CoR and excellent hygiene practices,” he said.