Hay management in fire ant restricted areas

Baled hay or straw from fire ant biosecurity zones is considered one of the highest risks for the long distance spread of fire ants.

Fire ants are often attracted to hay bales as they provide shelter, temperature control and a source of food.

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 prescribes procedures and management techniques that you must follow when producing, storing and moving hay or straw from a property within a fire ant biosecurity zone.

You must follow the management techniques, unless:

  • the material is moved directly to a waste facility (zone restrictions apply)
  • or
  • the material has been at the property for less than 24 hours.

If you are unable to comply with these conditions, then you must request a biosecurity instrument permit from an inspector.

Management techniques

The timing of hay production and baling, and appropriate storage of baled hay or straw, will reduce the risk of infestation by fire ants.

Hay production

Hay must be produced with the final two rakings conducted within 24 hours of each other, and cut hay must be baled within 24 hours of the last raking. Baled hay or straw must be moved off the property within 24 hours of baling or it must be stored appropriately.

Storage of hay

If the baled hay or straw will remain on the property for over 24 hours it must be covered and stored either on or off the ground.

On-ground storage and treatment

On-ground storage must be on either:

  • concrete or bitumen, that does not contain cracks
  • a barrier that cannot be penetrated by fire ants (e.g. 200 micron unperforated plastic sheeting)
  • an area of compacted ground, other than sand, that has been treated with an appropriate chemical product* before storage.

*This is not appropriate for baled hay or straw destined for animal consumption. Refer to the appropriate chemical product information below.

Treatment is required around the storage area by applying a 30cm wide strip of appropriate perimeter treatment.

Appropriate chemical product

Use an insecticide containing 500g/L chlorpyrifos or 80g/L bifenthrin. Keep the treated area free of material that could form an untreated ‘bridge’ to the hay.

Refer to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) permit numbers PER14718 (expires 30 June 2019) and PER14317 (expires 31 December 2021) for insecticides registered as a horizontal or perimeter barrier for fire ants.

You can search for permits on the APVMA website.

All use of insecticides must be in accordance with the conditions of the permit and in conjunction with the product’s label (e.g. the restrictions of use on baled hay or straw destined for animal consumption).

Keeping a record

Keep a written record of the steps you have taken to ensure the baled hay or straw is stored correctly, including chemical treatment records.

For further information contact a Biosecurity Queensland inspector on 13 25 23.

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