Stop phylloxera for $55

You can prevent the spread of phylloxera for $55. That’s the cost of using the Heat Shed in Naracoorte to disinfest machinery and equipment when moving it between vineyards, regions or states – if you’re an accredited user.

Based at the Naracoorte Saleyards, the Heat Shed is an increasingly popular facility for grapegrowers in the Limestone Coast and beyond.

“More and more growers and contractors are using it when they are moving machinery or equipment between the Limestone Coast and other regions in SA, and when moving machinery and equipment out of SA,” said Sarah Bird from Sunbird Viticulture, who manages the heat shed for Vinehealth Australia.

“It’s really a best practice activity for growers who want to ensure they are ticking all the boxes when it comes to the cleanliness of their equipment and the safety of their vineyards.”

Machinery and equipment are high risk vectors for spreading pests and diseases such as phylloxera, as they can carry grapevine material or soil and are especially hard to clean. The only way to ensure machinery is free of pests is to ‘bake it’ in a heat shed at required time and temperature specifications.

How does it work? Users phone Sarah on 0429 430 641 to make a booking. The heat shed can be booked for any time of the day or night, including on weekends. “Machinery and equipment must be clean before entering the shed – give it a good wash first, especially all the nooks and crannies,” Sarah said.

On arrival, the machine is driven into the heat shed. The shed is large enough to fit a grape harvester on the back of a semi, or can fit several small machines/pieces of equipment.

Temperature probes are attached inside the machinery/equipment to ensure a correct temperature is maintained for the correct amount of time – at least 45 degrees for two hours. The shed’s heat source is four large gas burners which take 1.5 hours to heat up, so users need to allow 3.5 hours for heat treatment.

At the end of the treatment, temperature probes are removed from the machinery/equipment, and the user is given a print out of the treatment, showing the disinfestation protocols achieved. “This report is a powerful document to prove disinfestation treatment as part of movement interstate, and for users to show vineyard owners and wineries they are working with,” Sarah said. “It proves they are serious about disease prevention and farm-gate hygiene.”

The heat shed is perfect for disinfesting grape harvesters, tractors, rotary hoes, slashers and any other diesel machinery and equipment used in agriculture. “We’ve had people from onion farms use it when moving equipment between regions and states. We’ve also had earthworks companies use the heat shed. Ideally, we can use it for any agricultural industry,” Sarah said.

How much does it cost? For accredited users who use the heat shed without assistance, the fee is $55. For non-accredited users who need Sarah to run the treatment, the cost is $225 on weekdays (8am to 6pm) or $325 outside of those hours.

To become an accredited user, growers must attend a scheduled training session where Sarah teaches participants how to set up the equipment and runs through all standard operating procedures.

“Accredited users get a key to the shed so that they can use it when it suits them. They still need to book in to ensure the shed is available, but they don’t need any other assistance,” Sarah said. “It’s really a very small price to pay to keep vineyards safe.”

The next training session for Naracoorte Heat Shed accreditation will be held on Friday 15 December at 9.30am. To book your spot, phone Sarah Bird on 0429 430 641 or email sarah@sunbirdviticulture.com.au.

For more information about the Naracoorte Heat Shed click here: http://www.vinehealth.com.au/functions/naracoorte-heatshed/

Naracoorte Heat Shed manager Sarah Bird.