Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

3. Phytophthora Disinfection Procedures

Phytophthora cinnamomi ('Pc') is one of many soil-borne diseases that affect native plant species.  While it is also known as 'Dieback Disease', dieback may also have other causes (not all of them related to Phytophthora) in different areas, and for different plant species.

Pc damages native vegetation in many parts of southern Australia. Mud, carried footwear, clothing, vehicles, tyres, equipment and tools, provides the ideal medium to spread Phytophthora cinnamomi. The following precautions should be applied before and after working in bushland to minimise the spread of Pc and other soil pathogens into new areas.

Remove soil or mud from footwear, trowels, spades, secateurs and other manual equipment with a brush or stick. (This includes ground-sheets, gaiters, or any camping gear in contact with the ground). Always carry a spray bottle containing 70% methylated spirits or quaternary ammonium disinfectant to spray soles and sides of footwear.

Vehicles and bikes: Avoid driving or riding on unsealed roads or off-track in suspected areas of infection, particularly in wet conditions. Use properly designed wash-down facilities if available i.e. not draining to soil or to natural watercourses. Hose vehicle thoroughly including under-chassis, to remove all mud. If no special facilities are available, wash-down in area draining only to mains drainage.

When in the bush

  • Stay on designated roads and tracks- do not take shortcuts
  • Consider rescheduling activities if the soil is wet
  • Report any unusual patches of dead or yellowing plants to local National Parks & Wildlife Service offices.

Proprietary disinfectants that will assist in killing pathogen spores include FarmCleanse, Biogram, Phytoclean Coolacide or other non-corrosive products. These can be used to wash down vehicles, machinery and larger, durable outdoor equipment. Most are readily available from farm suppliers and produce stores. Alternatively 1% a.i. sodium hyperchlorite or pool chlorine can be used but this can damage clothing and equipment. 

There are National Best Practice Guidelines available on the Commonwealth Government environment website (see detailed outline of documents in the References & Links section), provides both background information, models and tools for assessment, planning and  management along with practical advice on such things as developing a range of things like signage and hygiene solutions.
Examples of some of the hygiene solutions for vehicles and people from Appendix 2 are shown in the photos.



The automatic wash-down facility at the entrance to Alcoa’s Huntly bauxite mine in the south-west of Western Australia, designed to remove soil from trucks and light vehicles entering the mine, thus minimising the probability of introducing Phytophthora cinnamomi to the predominantly disease-free site. Photo: E O’Gara A hygiene kit, containing equipment and information to facilitate the cleaning and disinfection of footwear, small tools and equipment against Phytophthora. The Department for Environment and Heritage in South Australia actively promotes the assembly and use of such kits amongst stakeholders. Photo: R Velzeboer, Department for Environment and Heritage in South Australia The Anakie Scrubber footwear cleaning station consists of a metal ramp and disinfectant bath with an immersion plate for the cleaning of footwear prior entering uninfested areas. Photo: D Peters, Parks Victoria

Further advice

Plant Pathology Section, The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Telephone: (02) 9231 8186
Postal: Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000 (service charges may apply; phone before sending specimens).