More than just boot cleaning.

by Dr. Chloe Barnes

Biosecurity refers to the procedures undertaken to protect the population from organisms harmful to human, animal and plant life. At 2Excel ground data collection campaigns in the agricultural and forestry sectors requires an operational adoption of biosecurity protocols to prevent the transmission of pests and pathogens detrimental to crop and forest health.

One of the practical applications of biosecurity protocols at 2Excel concerns the cleaning and disinfectant of boots, clothing and equipment. This is undertaken between field sites to prevent the transmission of harmful organisms even at local scales.

Boot cleaning
Boot cleaning and disinfectant are just one of many biosecurity measures

The 2Excel off-road vehicle facilitates access to difficult field sites and allows the transport of field spectroscopy equipment and other heavy kit or cumbersome safely to site. Vehicles also present a potential means of transmitting pathogens between sites via material carried within tyres, undercarriages, grills and floors. As a result our in-house biosecurity also extends to our off-road support vehicle via thorough cleaning and disinfectant.

Understanding the biosecurity risk at each individual site is also important for ensuring the implementation of appropriate biosecurity measures. Sites with the confirmed presence of pests and pathogens present higher risk situations and therefore demand more stringent implementation of biosecurity procedures. Liaising with land owners and managers is an important aspect of understanding the biosecurity risk of a particular site.

Vehicle cleaning
Off-road vehicles also present a risk to transporting pathogens between sites.

Knowledge of specific pests and pathogens of concern and their specific transmission pathways can also aid the adoption of appropriate biosecurity during ground surveys. This information can also be useful when selecting effective disinfectant agents. For example, in the case of disease resulting from phytophthoras, the Propeller sanitising spray is applied due to its established effectiveness against the pathogens.

Field surveys form an important component of the development of remote sensing products for the detection of disease in both agriculture and forestry. They provide the ground truth needed to train machine leaning techniques algorithms to recognise the presence of disease or decline over cultivated and forested environments. Nevertheless, it is vital to ensure that ground truthing activities do not present an increased risk to the transmission of harmful organisms by the adhering to good biosecurity practises.