Farmers' perspectives on post-border biosecurity: on-farm biosecurity knowledge and practices

Lileko Lishomwa

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    882 Downloads (Pure)


    Biosecurity threats, such as pest, weed and disease outbreaks, are perceived to be increasing. Experience from abroad managing outbreaks has shown that encouragement from governments may minimize financial burdens. This thesis aimed to explore and understand farmers’ biosecurity knowledge and practices. This is in response to Australian governments adoption of a shared responsibility approach to biosecurity, which gives farmers greater levels of responsibility for engaging in post-border biosecurity management. Research conducted by veterinary epidemiologists suggests that farmers across livestock industries have poor and inconsistent implementation of on-farm biosecurity practices. However, there is limited scholarly literature that explores on-farm biosecurity from the farmers’ perspective. To address this issue, this thesis investigates farmers’ biosecurity knowledge and practices. This research is positioned in the sociological sub-discipline of rural sociology, and contributes to the growing body of social science biosecurity literature. It uses the theoretical framework of the notion of good farming, and links to farmers’ tacit knowledge in managing on-farm biosecurity. This study contributes to rural social science theoretical understanding, as good farming has not previously been applied to biosecurity studies. The study focuses on sheep farmers in the Riverina region of New South Wales. Semi-structured interviews were conducted during 2013 and 2014 to capture farmers’ perspectives of how they interpret and practice biosecurity.

    This study found that farmers actively participate in biosecurity practices, and they use their tacit knowledge and lifetime of farming experience to manage endemic risks that also meet their existing priorities and goals. A key finding was that the majority of these farmers’ biosecurity practices align incidentally, rather than in a planned or intentional way, with government and industry recommendations. The term proposed to capture this process is ‘incidental biosecurity’. This finding builds on current literature by showing farmers’ biosecurity knowledge and practices occur incidentally, and not as a direct result of government and industry education programs. This research highlights the significance of understanding and acknowledging the role of farmers’ knowledge and practices in securing Australia’s food supply through post-border biosecurity management.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Higgins, Vaughan, Principal Supervisor
    • Bryant, Melanie, Co-Supervisor, External person
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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