MANY Victorian grape growers are improving farm biosecurity by adopting better vineyard hygiene practices, according to surveys completed recently.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) conducted the surveys as part of a project to improve industry defences against a range of biosecurity threats, including the insect pest grape phylloxera.
Questions included the use of off-farm labour and contract services, the handling of machinery and equipment and the use of hygiene practices including access to vineyards.
The surveys allowed changes in vineyard hygiene practices over a two-year interval to be measured in several grape-growing areas of Victoria.
DPI senior regional horticultural biosecurity and emergencies officer John Whiting said the changes they found were mostly positive.
"There have been increases in the use of biosecurity signage, wash-down areas, footbaths and cleaning protocols in vineyards, while sharing of equipment and the use of off-farm labour and contract services have all decreased," Mr Whiting said.
"All of these changes improve farm gate biosecurity. None of the changes in hygiene practices have weakened vineyard biosecurity, but some practices have not significantly improved during the project."