Developing Your Biosecurity Plan: The National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Fruit and Tree Nut Industries
3.0 Develop your Biosecurity Plan

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3.1 Information

Your biosecurity plan should include an information gathering system to allow you to identify the current and potential pest risks to your plants as well as the pathways of transmission. This system should include:

  1. A communication network to:
    • gather information from sources including local agrologists, extension workers, researchers, fellow producers and producer associations
    • identify critical points to apply biosecurity intervention that will mitigate the risks associated with pathways of transmission (refer to section 3.3);
    • help identify pests on your farm operation;
    • review local horticulture publications and websites; and
    • attend industry meetings.
  2. Federal, provincial and municipal government resources to provide information regarding:
    • regulations and changes to regulations;
    • requirements for inputs and outputs;
    • specific criteria of other farm level programs (for example: Integrated Pest Management or CanadaGAP™); and
    • requirements for market access that are in addition to and may be more stringent than regulations.
  3. Farm operation layout to:
    • identify specific routes for the movement of inputs, people, vehicles, equipment and outputs;
    • locate signs to assist with directing traffic flow and increase awareness of designated areas;
    • illustrate the layout of your farm operation (map) including designated areas to assist in training new employees, directing visitors and service providers, planning future production processes and managing pest detections.

Gathering information will be an on-going process that will allow you to adjust your biosecurity plan to mitigate risks as they are identified.

3.2 Identification

There are many insects, viruses, bacteria, fungi, weeds, nematodes and phytoplasma that can impact fruit and tree nuts. The types of pests identified as a risk to your plants will depend on several factors, including:

  • the type of plants being grown;
  • the potential for pest introduction;
  • region;
  • climate; and
  • production practices.

To effectively control or contain a pest it must be correctly identified and the potential pathway of transmission must be understood. Proactive biosecurity measures applied to a critical point in the pathway of transmission can prevent the introduction and limit the spread of pests.

Figure 3 illustrates the relationship between a pest, host and the environment.

Figure 3: The Plant Pest Triangle

Figure 3: The Plant Pest Triangle. Description follows.
Description Figure 3: The Plant Pest Triangle

The Plant Pest Triangle has a triangle with the words "Incidence and/or severity of pest occurrence" written on it. Each point of the triangle has a circle surrounding it. Starting at the top, the first circle says: Crop. To the right, the second circle says: Environment. To the left, the third circle says: Pest.

The establishment of a pest requires the interaction of a susceptible host, a pest and an environment favourable for pest development. Environment can influence the relationship in the following ways:

  • increase or decrease pest survival;
  • detrimentally affect the health of the plant and increase susceptibility to pests; and
  • act as a natural pathway of transmission (for example: wind and water).

The introduction or severity of a pest occurrence can be reduced with proactive biosecurity measures such as the selection of resistant varieties or influencing the impact of an environmental factor.

3.3 Pathways of Transmission

The implementation of proactive biosecurity measures can mitigate the potential for introduction and spread of pests if applied to a critical point in a pathway of transmission. Pathways of transmission include:

  • Biological and mechanical vectors: insects, birds, animals, plant material and organisms in soil; and
  • Physical pathways: people, vehicles, tools, equipment, irrigation, harvest containers, inputs (for example: propagation material, plants, soil, mulch) and outputs (for example: pruning debris, unharvested fruit, fruit and harvest waste, as well as packing materials).

Table 1 provides an example of pest transmission pathway analysis. Knowledge and analysis of pest transmission pathways allows for the identification of the critical control points where biosecurity measures should be implemented.

Table 1: Example of Analysis of Transmission Pathways for Fruit and Tree Nut Pests

Pests Stock plants/ nursery Soil/ Mulches Air Water People Common Vectors Other pathways
Aphids Check Check Check Check Alternate hosts, machinery
Mites Check Check Check Pruning and plant debris
Brown rot Check Check Check Insects
Bacterial canker Check Check
Botrytis Check Check Check
Crown gall Check Check Tools, machinery
Weeds Check Check Check Check Birds, animals, manure, vehicles

3.3.1 Biological and Mechanical Vectors

Target Outcome:

Implementation of biosecurity measures at the critical points in the pathway of transmission of biological and mechanical vectors.

The following are some examples of biological and mechanical pathways:

  • Insects can serve as pathways to introduce viruses and bacteria;
  • Birds and mammals can spread weeds via feet, feces and fur.
  • Neighbouring crops may serve as a host for pests that may infect your plants.

Benefits

Reduce crop damage, increase productivity and minimize economic losses through the implementation of biosecurity measures that disrupt the pathways of transmission.

Considerations

  • Prevent wildlife from entering your production area. The use of fencing or tree guards that wrap around the trunk of a tree can minimize or deter wildlife from causing physical damage to your plants.
  • Manage vectors (for example; aphids, leafhoppers, mealybugs, scales, and nematodes) with management practices such as chemical, cultural and biological controls.
  • Beneficial insects can be negatively impacted by certain control measures.
  • Crop rotation or fallowing production areas may reduce the build-up of pests that can occur when one species is continuously grown in a production area.
  • Identify potential host plants within and around your production areas and remove or implement control measures for these potential hosts.
  • Locate your production areas away from neighbouring crops that may be potential hosts or vectors of pests.
  • Remove or eliminate pruning debris from production areas.
  • Locate compost piles away from production areas as they may serve as homes for unwanted animals and pests.
  • Dispose or manage infected fruit, nut or plant debris to control pests. Compost can be an effective way to dispose of infected material if done properly. Infected material that is not properly composted properly can be a significant source of pests.Footnote 2
  • Pollinators such as bees may be a pathway of viruses (for example: Blueberry Shock Virus). It is recommended to work closely with your pollinator provider to follow good management practices.Footnote 3

3.3.2 Physical Pathways

Inputs, people, equipment, tools and vehicles can be a potential source of pest introduction and spread onto your farm operation. On the other hand, outputs can present a risk of introduction and spread to other areas from your farm operation. It is important to implement biosecurity measures that will mitigate these risks and help break the cycle of pest transmission on your farm operation.

I) Inputs

Target Outcome:

To eliminate inputs as a potential source of pests.

Receiving inputs such as nursery stock, compost, manure, fertilizer, mulch, soil, packaging materials or water has the potential to introduce pests to your plants.

Your biosecurity plan should have protocols that mitigate the risks associated with moving inputs onto your farm operation.

Benefit

Ensuring inputs are obtained from a reputable source reduces the introduction of pests to your farm operation.

Considerations

  • Ensure that nursery stock that arrives on your farm are from reputable suppliers and certified for freedom from pests when available as signs of viruses, viroids and phytoplasmas may not be visible on dormant material. Material should also be certified for quality, trueness to type and pest resistance when possible.
  • Receive and store inputs in a designated area located away from your production areas to prevent introduction and spread of pests to your plants.
  • Inspect inputs for signs and presence of pests prior to accepting or moving the materials into your production areas.
  • Ask your compost or mulch supplier for testing history or quality assurances to ensure it is not a source of pests.
  • Keep records of when and where compost or mulch batches were used on your farm operation in the event of a pest detection.
  • Ensure manure that is being used as fertilizer has been composted to reduce the risk of pest introduction.
  • Include in your monitoring plan observation of areas where compost and manure has been applied to identify symptoms of pests.
  • Movement of soil between farm operations or designated areas is not recommended. Soil is considered to be a high risk pathway for spreading a wide range of pests (for example: bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes and weeds).
  • Know the previous use of recycled harvest containers to identify possible pathways of pest introduction.
  • Know the source, availability and quality of water applied on your production area. Water availability and quality are important considerations for healthy plants and soil as contaminated water can alter the composition of soil and also present food safety risks.
  • Prevent livestock and animal access to water sources used for irrigation or filling sprayers.
  • Maintain and clean (disinfect or sanitize) water system.
  • Maintain purchasing, production and storage records for relevant inputs. Records of the source of an input, numbers of plants and date planted can be important when responding to a pest detection. Records form the basis to identify the source of origin and potential distribution of a pest.
  • Recycled harvest containers, transport containers and packaging materials:
    • Consider the risk of re-using containers and packaging materials that cannot be cleaned between uses. Contaminated containers and /or packaging materials increases the potential for pest introduction and spread.
    • Ensure recycled harvest containers and transport containers are cleaned in a designated area located away from production areas.
    • Designate an area specifically for the storage of recycled harvest containers, transport containers and packaging materials.
    • Designate a clean packaging area.

II) People

Target Outcome:

Employees, visitors and service providers are informed and respect applicable biosecurity protocols.

Benefit

Managing the biosecurity risks associated with the movement of people between farm operations and designated areas can mitigate the risk of pests that can be carried on footwear, clothing and hair.

Considerations

  • Employees should be trained on the biosecurity protocols for your farm operation; refer to section 4.0 Training and Communication for information.
  • Visitors and service providers should report to the office or have farm employees meet them in a designated area to receive a briefing on the biosecurity protocols, access to supplies, and assistance to implement the protocols.
  • Visitors, service providers and employees should park in designated areas and only access areas necessary for their activities as their vehicles can carry pests.
  • Keep a visitors log to identify the date visited, the areas visited and the last contact with fruit and tree nuts prior to visiting your farm operation. This information may be useful when responding to a pest detection.
  • Ask visitors and service providers if they have visited another farm that day as clothing, footwear and hair can carry pests that may have been present on another farm.
  • Ensure visitors, service providers and employees who have been on other farm operations do not have soil or plant debris on footwear, clothing or hair.
  • Consider the biosecurity implications that customers present to a pick-your-own farm operation.

III) Vehicles, Tools and Equipment

Target Outcome:

Vehicles, tools and equipment are cleaned prior to entry and kept clean to prevent the introduction and spread of pests on your farm operation.

Vehicles, tools and equipment entering and moving within your farm operation pose a biosecurity risk as they can be contaminated with soil and plant debris that can harbor pests. Non-agricultural vehicles and equipment that enter and conduct activities not related to your production may also pose the same pest risk. For example;

  • earth-moving equipment;
  • gas exploration equipment;
  • utility service vehicles; and
  • delivery vehicles.

Recognize that vehicles, tools and equipment on your farm may have been on other farm operations.

Benefit

Biosecurity risks can be reduced by management of vehicles, tools and equipment entering and moving within your farm operation.

Considerations

  • Establish designated parking areas for visitors, employees and service provider vehicles.
  • Minimize traffic movement into farm production areas.
  • Inspect vehicles, tools and equipment for soil, plant debris, organic material and insects and if necessary clean prior to entry and movement between farm operations or designated areas.
  • If off-farm vehicles must be used on your farm operation, restrict them to designated access roads and prohibit access to production areas. Ensure that the vehicle is free of soil and plant debris if entry is required.
  • Prevent the entry of recreational vehicles on the premises, particularly into production areas.
  • Ensure that vehicles follow the appropriate routes and traffic-flow patterns as established. Move from clean production areas to those more likely to harbour pests or potential biosecurity risks.
  • Clean pruning and propagation tools between areas where pest transmission is a concern.

IV) Outputs

Target Outcome:

Product leaving the farm operation is free of pests of concern.

By-products or waste are disposed or treated to reduce the risk of spreading pests.

Outputs can be categorized into two distinct types:

  1. The final product which should be free of pests of concern; and
  2. By-products or waste which may contain pests when leaving the farm operation and require specific disposal or treatments to mitigate the release of pests to areas surrounding your farm operation and neighbouring farms.

Although outputs can be categorized into two distinct types both pose the same risk of pest introduction or spread to the areas surrounding your farm operation, to neighbouring farms or other regions.

Benefit

Managing outputs mitigates the potential risks associated with infestation and re-infestation of your farm operation as well as potential infestation of neighbouring farms, other crops, and the environment.

Considerations

  • Know the pest regulations for the intended market of your final product to ensure it can meet phytosanitary certification requirements.
  • During the growing season and at the time of harvest, monitor for symptoms or the presence of pests on the farm or harvested crop.
  • Follow established industry protocols for grading, labelling and segregation of final product as these are biosecurity activities that mitigate the risk of spreading pests.Footnote 4 Conduct these activities in a designated area away from production areas.
  • Identification and labelling of final product is important for traceability in the event of a pest detection (as well as spray residue issues or food-borne illness).
  • Dispose or manage infected fruit, nut or plant debris to control pests. CompostFootnote 5 can be an effective way to dispose of infected material if done properly. Infected material that is not composted properly can be a significant source of pests.Footnote 6
  • Dispose of culls, fruit and nut waste by deep burial, transportation to a municipal disposal facility or other methods that minimizes the risk of pest introduction and spread.
  • Locate compost or cull piles away from production areas.
  • By-products should be transported in leak-proof, clean bins to prevent the leakage of juice as it may contain pest larvae.
  • Know the pest status of the region(s) receiving your product. Additional biosecurity measures may be necessary for regions that are free of a pest that is present at your farm operation.

3.4 Pest Monitoring

Target Outcome:

Minimize production losses through the early detection of pests.

Implementation of a monitoring program on your farm operation will help to ensure that pest introductions or threshold limits are identified quickly and the potential for economic and ecological issues is lowered significantly.

Benefits

Early detection is vital to minimize the impact and to successfully contain or eradicate pests. Early detection of pests through regular monitoring leads to the implementation of management practices or specific pest response plans before pest population impacts market access, local economic losses and the environment.

Considerations

  • Your monitoring program should include activities to identify both existing and potential pests of concern. Use your information gathering system to continuously be aware of emerging pests.
  • Incorporate the knowledge of the pest life cycle, specifically the stages of development, where they are found and the symptoms exhibited into your monitoring program.
  • Correct identification of pests will help you determine the most appropriate and effective controls.
  • Know the risk of each pest and analyze the results of your pest monitoring as not all pests will carry the same risk.
  • A monitoring program should include routine observation of production and shipping areas for signs of pests.
  • Keep records of monitoring activities, observations and responses. Reviewing these records is an essential step in evaluating and developing response plans.

When monitoring has identified signs of pests take action to correctly identify the pest and evaluate the risk in order to take appropriate action.

3.5 Response Plan

Target Outcome:

The evaluation of the pest risk is used to develop your response plan.

When a common pest that is not regulated is detected there is a decision making process to determine if a response is required, the timing of the response and the most appropriate control. When a pest is found control actions may not always be required as not all pests carry the same risk. The economic and ecological implications should be assessed when deciding whether to respond to a pest detection on your farm operation. The decision of whether to manage or control a pest will depend upon factors including but not limited to:

  • biology of the pest;
  • availability of control measures;
  • cost and benefit considerations;
  • regulatory status of the pest; and
  • the availability of an area wide pest control strategy.

Identification and quantification of pests identified through your monitoring program provides the information to enable you to decide if you have reached your treatment threshold. A threshold is the critical point that you have decided a level of pest population may result in unacceptable economic loss or ecological impact. Thresholds are very specific and may fluctuate depending on crop, pest, growth stage of the pest, expected market value and cost of control. With so many factors to consider it may be difficult to establish thresholds. Seek information from your Integrated Pest Management (IPM) advisor, grower organization or provincial specialist to help you determine thresholds specific to your crops and pests of concern.

Benefits

Establishing a threshold and preparing detailed response plans prior to the identification of a pest may facilitate an effective response which may reduce economic loss and ecological impacts.

Timely pest identification, containment or eradication can mitigate the risk of disruption of domestic or international markets.

Considerations

  • Preserve samples to allow for accurate identification of pests.
  • Use laboratories, extension specialists, researchers and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for confirmation of pest identification.
  • When a regulated pest is identified the CFIA and your respective provincial or territorial government must be contacted to report the detection. If you suspect you have detected a regulated pest it is important to limit the potential spread of the pest through the control or restriction of movement of plant and fruit material as well as people and equipment in and out of the infected area on your farm.
  • Contact your industry organization(s) for your commodity group, to determine if an Emergency Response Plan exists.
  • Record the location of pest detections as this is important for immediate response or control.
  • Use signage to indicate the location of pest detections, where applicable.
  • Where there is a risk of transmitting pests of concern, implement controls to clean equipment between farm operations or production areas within your farm.
  • Include the response procedures as part of your employee education and training (refer to section 4.0 for further information).
  • Clean vehicles and equipment upon exiting the infested area to prevent spread of the pest. Cleaning will be determined based on the pest pathway of transmission.
  • Clean vehicles and equipment entering your farm if a pest risk has been identified in the vicinity of your farm operation.
  • If possible, dispose of plant debris and waste within the infested production area to prevent spread. If material cannot be disposed of onsite it should be contained for transport to a municipal disposal facility.
  • Pesticide applications may be required.
  • Proper management prevents the pest from becoming resistant to pesticides.
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