Farm Biosecurity Plans: A Complete Guide for Australia and New Zealand

Discover everything you need to know about farm biosecurity plans in our guide, from the essential elements to the importance of biosecurity legislation


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Biosecurity is pivotal to agriculture. The consequences of a biosecurity breach would be catastrophic to the livelihoods of farmers and growers. This would also affect the economy and even food supplies of Australia and New Zealand.

As a result, Australia and New Zealand have strict biosecurity policies in place both at the border and domestically.

Farmers and growers have to play their role in preserving biosecurity. Day-to-day decisions made by farmers and growers are significant to the biosecurity of their farms, regions and countries as a whole.

One of the key ways farmers and growers can ensure they are maintaining these standards is with biosecurity plans. In our complete guide, we'll explain what farm biosecurity plans are, and why they are critical to agribusinesses.


What is a farm biosecurity plan?

A farm biosecurity plan is a document focussing on the day-to-day and longer-term practices that aim to prevent weeds, pests, diseases and other biosecurity threats from impacting farming operations.

It takes the form of an actionable list of steps and processes to be taken to preserve farm biosecurity.

Farm biosecurity plans should generally be created based on templates. Many different governments and industry bodies can provide templates and information to help create this plan.


Why is a farm biosecurity plan important?

There are several reasons why biosecurity plans are an important step in preserving biosecurity on farms in Australia and New Zealand:

  • Legislation and regulations: The creation of a biosecurity plan is generally voluntary around Australia and New Zealand. However, these documents are important in complying with essential biosecurity legislation and regulations. They are strongly recommended by governments across Australia and New Zealand for this reason.
  • Compliance schemes: Biosecurity plans are critical components of several agricultural compliance schemes across Australia and New Zealand such as Livestock Production Assurance (LPA).
  • Provides actionable steps: These plans offer clear, practical measures for managing biosecurity risks and complying with legal requirements. They ensure that your team understands the necessary daily tasks to maintain biosecurity.
  • Corrective actions: Going through the process of creating your biosecurity plan will highlight corrective actions your agribusiness needs to take.


What should a biosecurity plan cover? is a key resource when it comes to biosecurity. It is a joint initiative of Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia. The website is frequently cited by governments as an excellent resource for the creation of farm biosecurity plans.

The key principles addressed on the site also apply to New Zealand biosecurity. Similar resources are also available to New Zealand farmers and growers, including the biosecurity module of the Taking an Integrated Approach to Farm Planning framework.

The Ministry of Primary Industry created this to assist farmers and growers in the creation of biosecurity plans. cites six "biosecurity essentials". These essentials are:

  • Farm inputs
  • Farm outputs
  • People, vehicles and equipment
  • Production practices
  • Ferals and weeds
  • Train, plan and record

Let's analyse how these 6 essentials should be represented in your plan. Remember that this is not an exhaustive overview. The nature of biosecurity plans should change from location to location. However, these core principles will apply in many instances.

Farm inputs

Per, "Almost anything moved onto your property can be a potential source of pests and diseases for livestock and plants." With this in mind, monitoring incoming goods into your farm is an essential component of a biosecurity plan.

Your farm biosecurity plan should address the following farm inputs:

  • Feed: Consider risks associated with diseases, pests and weeds being part of feed brought onto your property. Ensure feed is stored properly and not consumed past its expiry date.
  • Water: Pests and diseases can survive in water for long periods. Establish processes to ensure water sources are secured from wild animals or farm animal faeces.
  • New animals, plants and other inputs: Look to implement quarantining strategies when possible. You should also set up processes to regularly check in on newly planted areas for weeds.
  • Fertiliser: Address how animal manure and green waste will be aged and composted to prevent the presence of organisms. Set out how you will record the source of organic fertilisers.

Farm outputs

Biosecurity matters on a regional and national level. As a result, your biosecurity responsibilities don’t end when products have left your farm gate.

The following farm outputs should also be included in your biosecurity plan:

  • Moving plants and animals off the property: Ensure plant products and animals are fit to travel, records are up to date and the transport vehicle is clean. Your plan should reference relevant documentation such as National Vendor Declarations, Animal Health Statements and Interstate Certification Assurances.
  • Shows and sales: Have a process in place for proper practice when taking plants and animals to shows and sales. This should include only taking healthy plants and animals to these events. Ensure equipment is not shared with animals from other properties. Consider implementing quarantining procedures for returning livestock.
  • Bins and transport containers: Establish a cleaning protocol for bins and transport containers after they have been used to prevent the transfer of pests and disease organisms.
  • Product packing: Take action to reduce the risks of pests and disease organisms carried by soil and plant material on harvesting crops. Include steps in your plan such as removing soil and plant material and minimising post-harvest contamination.

People, vehicles, and equipment

Another category of potential external threat to your farm is people, vehicles and equipment. Any one of these factors can pose a serious biosecurity risk.

  • Visitors to the property: Your biosecurity plan should address how incoming visitors will be handled. This can include directing all visitors to a designated parking area away from livestock or crops. They can then report to management and sign a visitor register. 
  • Property access: Take steps to limit the number of entry points to your property through actions like locking unused gates.
  • Signage: It's important to let visitors know about biosecurity procedures and protocols on your property. Erect clear signage which provides direct instructions. You can access signage templates at
  • General hygiene: To address pests and disease organisms that can be found on hands, clothing and footwear, establish cleaning protocols. This should include providing hand washing facilities, foot baths or alternative clothing and footwear to visitors.
  • Vehicles: Have systems in place to minimise the number of vehicles allowed onto the property. Have designated parking areas for visitors. Monitor the surrounding area for signs of diseases, pests and weeds. Ensure visitors stay on established roads and tracks.
  • Vehicle washes: Have a designated wash area for vehicles that need to enter production areas. Use high-pressure washes or blow-downs where possible. Collect run-off in a sump.
  • Equipment: You also need to establish procedures for the cleaning of equipment. It should be cleaned before and after use on your farm or being lent to someone else. You should also clean and disinfect equipment in between its usage in different areas on your farm.

Production practices

Everyday on-farm practices are a crucial component of biosecurity management. Focus on the following areas to ensure your biosecurity plan addresses production practices.

  • Water management: Establish processes to prevent algal blooms. This can include aerating or treating water that is high in nutrients and stored in dams. Use drip irrigation for recycled water. Ensure livestock do not drink from waste water storage dams.
  • Plant waste: Any plant waste that shows sign of pests or disease should be disposed of by deep burial or burning. Healthy plant waste material should be sent to a dedicated waste management facility or composted thoroughly.
  • Animal waste: Ensure you have processes to dispose of animal carcasses and waste as soon as practical in a segregated area. Manage effluent dispersal to minimise the spread of disease. Make sure your team understands the relevant regulations and is following them.
  • Feed and water troughs: Establish and implement a cleaning roster to prevent the build-up of contaminants in troughs.
  • Monitoring: Establish a monitoring procedure for crops and livestock. This will ensure you can identify pests and diseases if they arise on your farm. Train staff on diseases and pests commonly found in your region to help detection.
  • Product storage: Take steps to ensure products are stored securely. Remove loose soil and plant material from harvested crops before storage.
  • Fences and yards: Create an action plan to use double fencing where possible around your property. Ensure your fencing stops your livestock from straying off your property.

Ferals and weeds

Agribusiness owners are generally well aware of the issues ferals and weeds can pose. These nuisances can also be major biosecurity risks.

As such, your farm biosecurity plan should address these issues in the following way:

  • Wild and feral animals: It is recommended to develop an external wild and feral animal control program. This program should be referenced in your biosecurity plan. Ensure boundary fences are secure.
  • Weeds: Similarly, you should establish a weed management plan for your property. This should address plans for eradicating, containing or managing weeds that are currently on your property. It also must address the prevention of the introduction of new species. You should also take steps to monitor for the presence of new weeds.

Train, plan, and record

Staff training and documentation are crucial processes involved in biosecurity. These facets can be addressed in your biosecurity plan in the following ways:

  • Staff training: Ensure that staff know about biosecurity measures being followed. This may take the form of training or information sessions.
  • Record keeping: Establish procedures for extensive record-keeping. This should include purchases, sales, health certificates and declarations.

For more information on what should be covered in your biosecurity plan, consider joining compliance schemes within your agricultural sector. These schemes often involve biosecurity measures. They can provide information specifically addressing your operations.


What does a farm biosecurity plan look like?

The key components of a good biosecurity plan include:

  • Cover sheets: Include any required coversheets in your biosecurity plan. For instance, Victoria requires a biosecurity management plan cover sheet to be included for biosecurity plans to be protected under its livestock management framework.
  • Property map: A property map can be a crucial addition to a biosecurity plan. This map can be used to identify biosecurity zones or "checkpoints".
  • Potential risks: Include an explanation of the potential biosecurity risks. Describe what could go wrong, and what the outcomes could be.
  • Actions: For each risk, include information on the actions that must be taken to address the risks.
  • Checkbox: Once an action has been undertaken, you can check it off the list. recommends splitting up biosecurity activities into short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals should be feasibly accomplished within 12 months. They should also be affordable in the short term.


Long-term goals should be planned and implemented over a longer period. They may require additional resources that are not presently available. While short-term goals should be focussed on regulatory compliance, long-term goals may focus more on quality of service and administrative procedures.


The site provides a biosecurity planning template for your farm to follow. Remember to add to this template any additional considerations required on your property.


How do biosecurity plans relate to biosecurity legislation?

Biosecurity plans are even more critical to agribusinesses than some other types of action plans. That's because in many cases, biosecurity management plans are linked to biosecurity legislation.

Let's go around each Australia and New Zealand state and analyse the link between legislation and biosecurity plans.

Remember this is just general information, and laws can change frequently. Seek legal advice or get in touch with relevant government organisations for more in-depth explanations of your rights and responsibilities.

New Zealand

New Zealand's most important piece of biosecurity legislation is the Biosecurity Act 1993. The Act does not directly reference farm biosecurity plans.

New Zealand farmers and growers can look to resources like the biosecurity module of the Taking an Integrated Approach to Farm Planning framework.

Additionally, agricultural organisations such as Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Horticulture New Zealand have produced biosecurity plan templates for farmers and growers to follow.

Each plan is crafted to specifically address the needs of farmers and growers in particular sectors. They can serve as excellent starting points for agribusiness owners.

New South Wales

From 1 August 2019, changes were put into effect to the New South Wales Biosecurity Regulation 2017. These changes meant that people entering areas where a Biosecurity Management Plan applies have to comply with the measurements outlined in the plan.

Failure to comply with arrangements laid out in a Biosecurity Management Plan can result in harsh penalties. This can include fines of $220,000 for an individual and $440,000 for a corporation.

The creation of biosecurity plans is still voluntary in NSW. However, it is strongly recommended by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

In order for a biosecurity plan to be enforceable under these regulations, it must meet minimum criteria, including:

  • Your biosecurity management plan must contain reasonable measures that prevent, eliminate or minimise the risk of a biosecurity impact caused by persons entering or carrying out activities at or from the place.
  • You must be actively using your biosecurity management plan on your property.
  • The biosecurity management area - the area on the property your biosecurity management plan applies - must be made clear. A biosecurity management area can be a part of a property or a whole property.
  • You must place signs at each entrance to the management area. They must notify visitors that they are entering an area covered by a biosecurity management plan.


Agriculture Victoria states that "It is recommended that anyone who keeps or owns livestock or who operates a cropping or horticulture business, has a biosecurity plan for their property."

Under changes made to the Livestock Management Act 2010 and Livestock Management Regulations 2021, farmers and growers can develop biosecurity plans, and if visitors do not follow the measures of the plan, it is an offence.


The major requirement to be protected by this framework is to have a biosecurity management plan coversheet attached to your on-farm biosecurity plan.

Other elements of the framework include clear signage at all access points in the biosecurity management area. Additionally, visitors must get consent to enter or remain on the premises, or to interfere with or disturb any livestock or thing.

Where prescribed biosecurity measures are not followed, the following fines can apply:

  • On-the-spot fine (infringement offence):

    • For an individual, equivalent to $1,346 (in 2023–2024)

    • For an organisation, equivalent to $8,654 (in 2023–2024)

  • For more serious offending where prosecution is undertaken, and it proceeds to the Magistrates’ Court for determination
    • For an individual, up to $11,539 (in 2023–2024)
    • For an organisation, up to $57,693 (in 2023–2024)


In Queensland, there is a clear legal distinction between biosecurity plans and biosecurity management plans.

Biosecurity plans are defined as documents that outline biosecurity risks to a property, facility or local government area. These documents also outline the processes used to manage these risks.

Biosecurity management plans have additional requirements, as they are supported by the Biosecurity Regulation 2016. These plans must be followed by any visitors to the property unless they have "legal access to land".

Visitors covered by "legal access to land" include electricity providers, resource and gas companies, licence or permit holders, or those who have a contract to enter the property.

Though they are not legally required to comply with the biosecurity management plan, they must comply with general biosecurity obligations.

Failure to comply with a biosecurity management plan constitutes an offence if it occurs on a place that is a registered biosecurity entity (RBE).

Western Australia

In Western Australia, the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 is in place. This act outlines a range of biosecurity practices for landholders and agricultural workers to follow. However, it does not place specific legal standing on farm biosecurity plans.

South Australia

Similarly to Western Australia, South Australia has more limited legislative and regulatory involvement in farm biosecurity plans. Initiatives currently in place include One Biosecurity.

This is a voluntary program that supports livestock producers in implementing biosecurity management plans and other best practices.

South Australian lawmakers are currently considering a bill to replace several key pieces of biosecurity legislation. However, draft versions of the bill do not currently address farm biosecurity management plans. This means that changes in this area are unlikely in the near future.


On-farm biosecurity plans have a limited relationship to legislation and regulations in Tasmania. However, farmers should familiarise themselves with the Biosecurity Regulations 2022 when creating their plan.

The Tasmanian Government has also worked with TasFarmers to provide extensive biosecurity resources to farmers in the state. This includes a full on-farm biosecurity template.


Manage your farm's biosecurity with Onside

Onside is a vital tool in managing farm biosecurity and maintaining your biosecurity plan, by providing features for 

  • An extensive check-in process
  • Digitising systems 
  • Collaboration with governments and industry bodies

Onside helps you proactively communicate your biosecurity plan, and let visitors know how to reduce the risk of bringing pests or diseases on site when they check-in. 

With Onside's digital check-in app, you will know immediately if someone checking in could be a biosecurity risk to your property

  • Set up customise check-in questions that every visitor must answer. These are used to screen for pest and disease transmission. An example could be; ‘Have you been on another farm in the last 30 days’.

  • If an answer to a question highlights a potential biosecurity risk, nominated people on the property receive a mobile alert, and they can contact the person who has arrived to discuss whether they should enter the property or not.

  • The check-in app also allows you to set custom rules for each property that visitors must review and acknowledge when they arrive. So this is where you can provide clear information to every visitor, like where vehicles are allowed to be parked. 

  • Capturing details for visitors digitally provides you with complete records of who has been on your properties when, which you can access anytime.

Onside also works with governments and industry bodies to build a network of high risk biosecurity movements within industries. Growers and farmers of industries that are involved can opt in to record their movement data which is provided to the industry body at an anonymised level. In the event of a pest or disease detection, the industry can trace the movements from where it was first identified, to stop the spread and protect their growers from the disaster of widespread biosecurity incursions.


Your biosecurity plan is the perfect first step, but Onside's technological solution takes risk mitigation to the next level. Book a demo and discover all the ways Onside can benefit your agribusiness.