Greenhouse Vegetable Sector Biosecurity Guide
1.1 The Importance of Biosecurity
Biosecurity is a set of practices used to prevent, minimize and manage the transmission of pests including their introduction, spread and release. Implementing and enhancing biosecurity measures within a place of production will help protect individual and sector-wide economic interests. Producers will benefit from awareness of the risks and the measures that can be implemented to minimize the risk of pest introduction and spread.
Risks to places of production may develop rapidly and easily spread to other places of production due to the intensive nature of production, limited genetic diversity within crops and the movement of people and materials. Implementing biosecurity measures can help to mitigate many risks by reducing the incidence of pest introduction and spread within a place of production as well as to additional places of production.
1.2 Biosecurity Concepts
Implementing biosecurity measures can be effective not only for mitigating the spread of pests but also for preventing the introduction of new and unknown pest risks. Applying biosecurity measures depends on analysis of the risks and pathways of pest transmission for a place of production. Knowledge of pests and their pathways of transmission is important when developing a biosecurity plan. With this knowledge, pest vectors can be managed and biosecurity measures can be applied to interrupt pest pathways of transmission to help reduce crop damage and minimize economic losses. Examples of pathways of pest transmission can include insects, people, equipment and wind.
To determine the critical points in pest pathways of transmission for a place of production where biosecurity measures may be applied, a risk assessment may be conducted. The risks to a place of production will vary depending on several factors, such as the type of crop grown, the source(s) of propagative material, the region, the climate and the production practices.
In addition, as illustrated in Figure 1, pest outbreaks do not happen in isolation, but are dependent on the interrelated nature of the crop, the environment and the pest.
- Crop health: If the crop is not healthy and under stress, the plant can be more susceptible to pests. However, if the plants are healthy, this does not eliminate pest issues.
- Pests: Many pests can thrive in optimal crop-growing conditions.
- Environment: The environment is important to the development of the crop and the pest.
Figure 1: The Plant Pest Triangle
The Plant Pest Triangle shows that the incidence and severity of an outbreak relates to the interaction of a susceptible crop, a pest, and an environment favourable to pest development. In addition to applying biosecurity measures at critical points in the pathway of transmission, pests may also be mitigated through the application of biosecurity measures to reduce the risks presented by these three components. For example, a producer may choose to grow tolerant plant varieties or manage the environment.
1.3 Benefits of a Biosecurity Plan
What's in it for me?
One benefit of a biosecurity plan is that it can provide producers with the less costly option of preventing rather than managing the introduction or spread of pests. If a pest is detected, there are protocols already in place to facilitate a rapid response, thereby minimizing the damage or further spread of pests. Other benefits of incorporating biosecurity measures into the day-to-day activities of a place of production include:
- Managing the risk of business interruption due to harmful pest detections at your place of production.
- Meeting customer and consumer demand for biosecurity measures and protocols.
- May assist in attracting new markets.
- Decreased production losses.
- Avoiding the introduction of pests that are currently not present.
- The ability to contain and minimize pests that are already present.
- Breaking the cycle of transmission of pests from one place of production to another, to the wider community and between trading partners.
It is preferable to prevent rather than manage the introduction or spread of a pest within a place of production.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
1.4 Elements of a Biosecurity Plan
Biosecurity plans will differ from one place of production to another, as biosecurity measures and requirements will vary depending on the place of production. A biosecurity plan may include a detailed farm map(s), training programs, and standard procedures for pest response and the movement of people, vehicles and equipment. Documenting these procedures can ensure consistent application and demonstrate to customers that a place of production operates under biosecurity measures.
Other programs such as CanadaGAP™ may already be used and have components that apply to biosecurity. Those programs can be referenced as part of a biosecurity plan.
To develop a biosecurity plan, consider the following process:
Step 1: Develop a detailed map of the place of production. A map can be useful for visualizing and identifying potential sources or pathways of pest transmission. A map may include the entrance, shipping area, receiving area and biosecurity zones. The flow of plant material, people and equipment within the place of production can also be included.
Step 2: Identify the risks to a place of production. Knowledge of pests and their pathways of transmission can help to identify the risks and biosecurity measures that can help mitigate pests.
Step 3: Review current biosecurity measures. The self-assessment checklists and the Greenhouse Vegetable Sector Biosecurity Guide Self-Assessment Checklist and Action Work Plan can be used to help identify additional biosecurity measures that may be implemented at a place of production.
Step 4: Identify biosecurity goals. Prioritize and establish a timeline for the implementation of the additional biosecurity measures identified after completing the self-assessment checklists or the Greenhouse Vegetable Sector Biosecurity Guide Self-Assessment Checklist and Action Work Plan.
Step 5: Develop an implementation strategy. Communication, education and training of employees and visitors of a place of production are an important part of the implementation strategy.
Step 6: Review and update the biosecurity plan. A biosecurity plan should be regularly reviewed and updated as new biosecurity information becomes available or if there are changes within a place of production.
1.5 Implementing a Biosecurity Plan
As seen in Figure 2, the implementation of biosecurity measures in a place of production is a cycle of biosecurity activities. The need to assess and re-assess can be seen as the starting and ending point of the cycle leading to a more proactive approach.
Figure 2: Cycle of biosecurity activities
Assess: Identify and assess the risks of pest introduction and analyze the pathways of pest transmission. This will allow for current biosecurity gaps within a place of production to be addressed. Production practices should be reviewed frequently (re-assess) to ensure that implemented measures are effective in relation to pest prevention and control.
Plan: A written biosecurity plan is highly recommended. A written plan allows for regular review and updates, facilitates continuous improvement within the place of production, and forms the basis for training.
Implement: Put the plan into action. Education, training and communication are key to implementing a biosecurity plan.
Monitor: A monitoring program is developed and implemented for the early detection, identification and ongoing monitoring of pests. It is important that the design, effectiveness and implementation of a biosecurity plan be assessed not only on a routine basis but also when changes in production practices or biosecurity risks occur.
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