Managing baled materials

Managing baled materials in a fire ant biosecurity zone

Hay bales in field, baled materials

To prevent the spread of one of the world’s most invasive pests, risk mitigation controls must be used when managing baled materials in fire ant biosecurity zones.

What do I need to do?

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 (Regulation) outlines how baled materials such as grass, straw, and sugarcane must be managed in fire ant biosecurity zones. If you produce, store or purchase baled materials within a fire ant biosecurity zone, you should follow the risk mitigation controls outlined below:

Raking and baling

If moving the material off the property, the final two rakings of any cut material must be done within 24 hours of each other and it must be baled within 24 hours of the last raking.
Baled materials must then be moved off the paddock within 24 hours of baling.


If materials are to remain on the property for more than 24 hours, you must use one of the following storage options:
✔ Off-ground and covered with an effective barrier that prevents flying fire ant queens from settling in the bales.
✔ On-ground:
o covered with an effective barrier that prevents flying fire ant queens from settling in the bales, and
o stored on a fire ant resistant surface surrounded by a 30 cm wide perimeter treatment using an approved chemical product.

The role of the perimeter treatment and fire ant resistant surface is to prevent fire ant queens crawling or tunnelling into the baled materials.

If storing off-ground

Storing the baled materials off-ground on a trailer, either covered with a tarp or placed inside a shed, is appropriate.

Storing baled materials on pallets IS NOT considered off-ground storage. Material can easily fall through gaps and form a 'bridge', potentially allowing fire ants to infest the bales. If you want to use pallets, you may do so, but please you must follow the recommendations for on-ground storage.

If storing on-ground

Selecting a fire ant resistant surface
Some examples of fire ant resistant surfaces include:
✔ concrete or bitumen (with no cracks)
✔ a barrier that fire ants cannot penetrate (e.g. 200 micron unperforated continuous plastic sheeting)
✔ compacted ground (other than sand) that has been treated with an appropriate chemical product before materials are stored.
Applying chemical treatment correctly
✔ If the material will be stored on a fire ant-resistant surface (as above), apply a 30 cm wide perimeter around the storage area.
✔ If the material will be stored on compacted ground, the entire ground surface must be treated. Bales likely to be used to feed animals require an impermeable barrier such as rubber mats or plastic sheeting to avoid contamination.

Check the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority  (APVMA) website for suitable chemical products and to ensure you use the correct amount and concentration. 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.


You may move processed materials, across and outside fire ant biosecurity zones if you:
✔ follow the movement and storage procedures, or
✔ move the material directly to a waste facility as follows:
o material originating within zone 1 can be moved to a waste facility within zone 1 or 2
o material originating within zone 2 can be moved to a waste facility within zone 2 only, or
✔ move the material within 24 hours of it being at the original place.

You can also use our fire ant advice tool to find out what requirements apply to you.
If you are unable to fulfil these requirements then you must apply for a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP) on our website or call 13 25 23.

Keeping a record

You should always keep a written record of the steps you take to ensure processed materials are stored and moved correctly, including chemical treatments applied and/or disturbance activities completed. These records should be kept for a minimum of two years.

More information

For more information or to complete our free fire ant training visit our website or call 13 23 25.

Last updated: December 2021