Mulch management and transport in fire ant biosecurity zones

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 outlines the management methods you must follow when storing and moving mulch from a property within a fire ant biosecurity zone.

Moving mulch in, across or outside the fire ant biosecurity zones

You may move mulch within, across and outside biosecurity zones if you:

  • move material from zone 1 directly to a waste facility in zone 1 or 2
  • or
  • move material from zone 2 to a waste facility in zone 2 only
  • or
  • move the material within 24 hours of it being at the original place
  • or
  • follow the management techniques outlined below.

You can also use our fire ant advice tool to find out what requirements apply to you.

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

Management methods

The appropriate storage of mulch will reduce the risk of infestation by fire ants.

Storage of mulch

If the mulch will remain on the property for more than 24 hours, you must use the following storage options:

  • off-ground and covered
  • or
  • on-ground, and covered, one of the following surfaces:
    • concrete or bitumen (no cracks)
    • a barrier that cannot be penetrated by fire ants (e.g. 200 micron unperforated plastic sheeting)
    • compacted ground (other than sand) that has been treated with an appropriate chemical product before storage.

Disturbing mulch during storage

Anyone storing mulch must either comply with the storage requirements above or disturb any stockpiles periodically to prevent fire ants becoming established within the stockpile. This means undertaking an activity to disturb the stockpile:

  • every 21 days
  • and
  • 24 hours prior to moving the material to another location.

Activities to 'disturb' a material include any combination of turning, screening, crushing, shredding, chipping or washing.

Treatment of mulch

Chemical treatment must be applied around the perimeter of the on-ground storage area. This should be done by applying a 30cm-wide strip of insecticide containing bifenthrin—check the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) permit to ensure you use the correct amount and concentration. If mulch is stored on compacted ground, the whole surface area must also be treated.

Keep the treated area free of material that could form an untreated bridge to the mulch.

For an insecticide registered as a horizontal or perimeter barrier for fire ants, refer to APVMA permit PER14317 (expires 29 February 2024).

Insecticides must be used in accordance with the conditions of the APVMA permit, the safety data sheet (SDS) and in conjunction with the product's label.

Keeping a record

Keep a written record of the steps you take to ensure the mulch is stored and moved correctly, including chemical treatments and/or disturbance activities. Keep these records for a minimum of 2 years.

For further information, contact a National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program inspector on 13 25 23

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