None of us really knew what biosecurity was until we learnt about it in class!
Biosecurity is procedures or measures created to ensure our biological products (in this case agriculture, crops, cattle etc.) are kept safe from diseases and pests. We gained an understanding of this by undertaking a lesson on airport security. Our teacher got us to test five different items that came through our mock custom set up. These items included a soccer boot (probably because the world cup was coming up), a shell, a wooden bead, a leaf and a quarter of a honey sandwich.
Why did we look at these items? Honey - Some honey can bring in disease as it is unpasteurised. Honey can contain diseases from the plant pollen. Soccer Boot - We extracted the soil from the soccer boats. Soil can contain many viruses, bacteria and fungi including those that could kill animals. This would greatly effect the beef industry leading to significant loss for the farmers. Diseases could include Foot and Mouth Disease or Bovine Respiratory Disease. Wooden Bead - Wood can carry diseases that may effect vegetation and plants. Leaf - May contain fungal diseases. Shell - May contain soil like the soccer boot.
We used protein strips to come up with a neutral or base reading on a cup of water. We then placed each item in the separate cups of water and measured the protein present. Traces of disease proteins are one way that people can identify possible risks. In our group we detected high levels of protein in the honey sandwich. The other group detected it in the wooden bead. What we didn't know was that our teacher had brushed these items with egg white previously causing the increase in protein.
From this experiment we had a better understanding of why biosecurity was important.... not just biosecurity between countries but also within countries. We then went and looked at what was currently a threat to Australia via http://www.outbreak.gov.au/. Thank goodness nothing much was happening in NSW or to the beef industry! However, we did learn about Banana Freckle and Electrics Ants!
Banana Freckle - Banana freckle is affecting well.... our bananas! Banana freckle is well..... freckles on a banana! This is a fungal disease spread by spores on wet leaf surfaces. It INFECTS our favourite type of bananas Lady fingers. Did you know you can report Banana Freckle to the authorities?
Electric Ants - Electric Ants are well... ants but not really electric?? They are in tiny social ants about 1.15mm long. They can blind domestic pets and reduce plant vigour! Use chemical baits and movement controls to keep them in check.
We can't wait to ask Tim more about what biosecurity threats he has faced on the farm.
You can read more about our biosecurity lesson here.