Phytophthora cinnamomi 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. Phytophthora cinnamomi damages native vegetation in many parts of southern Australia. Mud, carried footwear, clothing, vehicles, tyres, equipment and tools provide the ideal medium to spread Phytophthora cinnamomi. The following precautions should be applied before and after working in bushland to minimise the spread of Phytophthora 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.
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.
- 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% sodium hyperchlorite (active ingredient) or pool chlorine can be used but this can damage clothing and equipment.
A commonly used disinfectant is 70% methylated spirits (made up by roughly mixing 7 parts commercial methylated spirits to 3 parts water) in an enclosed container. Spray bottles are widely available and an easy way to apply the disinfectant.
A good strong brush is great to get out soil that is deeply imbedded soil into boot treads and bike tyres. Once cleaned of mud & soil then spray with 70% alcohol.
National Best Practice Guidelines provide 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.