Fire Ant Ready: In the Zone with Shaun Hann

This week on the podcast, Jon Paul Driver sits down with Shaun Hann, the Manager at Toowoomba Hay Farm, to discuss his firsthand experiences after one of their storage facilities was declared to be in a fire ant zone. Shaun shares how this unexpected challenge has impacted their operations, the new regulations they are navigating, and the practical steps they are taking to remain fire ant free and compliant.

Episode Highlights:

  • The recent discovery of fire ants just kilometres away from Toowoomba Hay Farm’s Oakey storage facility has necessitated a rapid educational and operational response to comply with stringent biosecurity standards.
  • Fire ants, known for their destructive impact on crops and painful stings, represent a significant agricultural and public health threat.
  • Following the identification of a fire ant nest in May, a five-kilometre contamination zone was established around the nest site, placing Toowoomba Hay Farm’s Oakey storage facility within this high-alert area.
  • Fortunately, Toowoomba Hay Farm’s storage facilities already had bitumen and concrete flooring, but has taken additional biosecurity measures, including setting up chemical barriers and updating storage protocols, to prevent the spread of ants.
  • Staff at the facility underwent extensive training and received certifications in fire ant management, ensuring preparedness and compliance with the National Fire Ant Eradication Program and Queensland’s Biosecurity 2016 guidelines.
  • Toowoomba Hay Farm has adopted additional safety protocols, including weekly inspections and advanced pest control treatments, to proactively exceed governmental requirements.
  • The ongoing government-led baiting and chemical treatments aim to reduce the spread of the ant colonies, with the storage facility’s status remaining in Zone One, indicating continued high vigilance and control efforts.
  • The potential downgrade of the contamination zone from Zone One to Zone Two remains uncertain, which could impact future plans and costs.

Visit the Feed Central Fire Ant Resource Page for helpful tips on biosecurity, along with training and certification resources compiled by the team after their experience in a fire ant zone.

Author

  • Tim Ford

    In 2002, Tim established Feed Central, leveraging over many years of professional hay and agricultural experience domestically and internationally. Tim was born and bred in the Riverina and has travelled extensively within domestically and internationally to learn more about hay and the national and international fodder markets. Tim is a sought-after media commentor on matters relating to the fodder industry and often advises corporate and family companies on hay procurement and marketing strategies. Tim advises all levels of government on matters relating to the industry and was a member of the Prime Minister’s Drought Task Force during the 2017 -2020 drought. Tim is both a strategist and innovator leveraging digital solutions to drive people and client centric solutions across the industry.

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