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Review of grain devitalisation methods

Did you know Australian biosecurity practices ensure that feed-grain imported from overseas does not contain foreign pests or disease?

Project start date: 07 June 2019
Project end date: 16 October 2019
Publication date: 02 December 2019
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Grainfed cattle
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (2.2 MB)


Domestic grain production generally provides adequate supply for the Australian livestock industries. However, there have been periods where drought has limited the supply of locally available grain, which requires the import of grain from overseas that must be properly sterilised against pests and disease.

This study investigated global grain-sterilisation techniques and their capacity to meet Australia's current and future biosecurity requirements for foreign grain importation.

The review found that changes in technology, animal production systems, climate change and domestic grain production have all contributed to a new range of new opportunities and threats. A combination of treatments and supply chain management factors (e.g. product source and destination) will be critical to meeting biosecurity requirements of grain importation to the Australian livestock industry.


This project consisted of a desktop review and industry interviews to provide an overview of the current challenges to bulk grain and plant-based stockfeed importation.

The review focused on global grain-sterilisation techniques and the capacity for these techniques to meet Australian biosecurity requirements to identify domestic and international supply chains that import viable grain.

Key findings

  • The successful importation of bulk grain and plant-based stockfeed for the livestock industry is a process of risk management for best-practice of the eradication and sterilisation of grain pests, pathogens and weed seeds.
  • There is an opportunity for a multi-product processing facility to be established in Australia and operated from within a seaport quarantine zone. To match the feed demands of the intensive livestock industries, the facility must be able to treat whole-grain when it is imported, at a capacity of 10,000 tonnes per day.
  • The research outlines the cost and effectiveness of several grain-sterilisation techniques, and found that an irradiation-based heat treatment, plus one of the fumigants investigated (Ethanedinitrile), has the ability to meet the needs of grain importation as stand-alone treatments.

Benefits to industry

The ability of Australia to import sterile grain that does not pose a biosecurity risk would significantly improve the capacity for producers and feedlot operators to feed livestock during times of drought.

MLA action

  • The report was presented to the Australian Lot Feeders' Association, Dairy Australia, Australian Pork Limited and the Australian Chicken Meat Federation to action the recommendations.
  • A project is being developed, in conjunction with the other intensive livestock industries, to undertake the trials required to confirm the efficacy of the irradiation-based heat treatment technology, allowing it to be added to the "approved treatments" list.
  • A feasibility assessment is being undertaken on the use of Ethanedinitrile as an imported grain treatment.

Future research

There may be potential for an individual operator to commission a steam flaking plant that can utilise a combination of carefully selected grain sources, sealed shipping containers and improved plant hygiene standards to import whole grain.

Future investment should evaluate the potential for importation of whole-soy and the comparative advantages in cost and nutrition for livestock.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: Colere Group Pty LTd