Greenhouse Vegetable Sector Biosecurity Guide
3.0 Place of Production Operational Management

Operational management of a place of production is fundamental to the development and implementation of a biosecurity plan. Assessing the risks associated with the activities that take place at the place of production is necessary. Potential biosecurity risks can be associated with the location of the place of production; the movement of people, vehicles and equipment; as well as production inputs and outputs.

3.1 Location and Layout

Target outcome:

Knowledge of the location and layout is used to evaluate new sites and to protect existing or neighbouring sites.

Benefits: The natural environment surrounding a new or established place of production is important for identifying potential pests in the area and their source. Natural dispersal plays an important role in the introduction and spread of pests into a place of production and from one place of production to another. In addition, thoughtfully designed places of production can be the first line of defense in biosecurity and can reduce the risk of pest introduction. When designing a place of production, the flow of plant material and crops from the time of receiving to the time of shipping should be considered. Understanding and integrating the knowledge of the location and layout of a place of production is important in developing, implementing and modifying a biosecurity plan.

It is recognized that some of the biosecurity measures outlined in this section may only be applicable when building a new place of production. However, there are biosecurity measures that can be implemented in established places of production to mitigate pest introduction and spread. For example, if shipping and receiving are conducted in the same area, separation in timing can be used to minimize the risk of pest spread from potentially infested inputs to the final product.

Risks

Geography and environmental factors

It is important to consider all factors and weigh the benefits of biosecurity measures against the potential pest risk to make risk management decisions regarding the site selection and the layout of a place of production. For example, it is important to consider neighbouring activities such as the type of crop in production, the timing of harvest, the composting practices, the importation of product or non-agricultural activities when building a new place of production. Depending on the direction of the prevailing winds, fungal spores or insects can be introduced into a place of production from these neighbouring activities. However, after assessing the risk presented by these activities, it may be of greater benefit to position a place of production to face the prevailing winds for venting purposes due to hot temperatures in the summertime.

The topography of the area surrounding a place of production should also be taken into consideration to reduce the amount of standing water in the production areas. Drainage patterns and surface water movement can affect the potential for pest introduction and distribution by creating standing water in production areas.

Layout

When designing the layout of a place of production, the flow of plant material and crops should be examined to determine critical points in the pest pathways of transmission. Applying biosecurity measures at the critical points in transmission may mitigate the risk of pest introduction and spread within the place of production. For example, the receiving area where the inspection of inputs such as seeds and transplants takes place should be located away from the production area. In addition, the place of production should be designed so that the receiving area can be cleaned if a pest is detected.

A biosecurity plan should include a map of the place of production. A map can be useful to visualize and examine potential pathways of transmission and may also be used as a tool to train employees and direct visitors. When creating a map of the place of production, it is useful to include the location of specific areas such as the entrance, boiler room, lunch room, shipping area, raw product and finished product. This map should also indicate the location of biosecurity zones and the flow of plant material and crops within the place of production. Maps previously created for Environmental Farm Plans and Food Safety Plans may be useful for this purpose.

Figure 3 provides an example of a map of a place of production that includes the flow of plant material and crops.

Figure 3: Example Map of Place of Production

Figure 3: Example Map of Place of Production. Description follows.
Description for photo - Figure 3: Example Map of Place of Production

Figure 3 is an example of a map for a place of production. The figure includes four water tanks, a pump house, four greenhouses, four storage areas, four breakrooms each with a washroom, two tote washing areas, a receiving area that includes a quarantine area, a boiler room, a receiving office, a chemical storage, an area for the grading area, a cooler for market ready product, a shipping area, a shipping office and a packing house. There are arrows from each greenhouse through to the grading lines to indicate the traffic flow. There are also arrows indicating the flow of raw product from the grading lines to the cooler for market ready product. Arrows indicate that the finished product flows from the cooler for market ready product to the shipping area.

Location and Layout Self-Assessment Checklist

Geography and Environmental Factors
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
The surrounding environment and neighbouring activities are considered when making decisions regarding the location and layout of the place of production.
Risk based decisions are made when choosing a site and designing the layout of a new place of production.
Topography is considered to reduce the amount of standing water within the production areas.
Layout
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
The flow of plant material and crops from the time of receiving to the time of shipping is considered to design the layout of the place of production.
The pathways of pest transmission are considered to design the layout of the place of production.
The place of production is designed to separate the location of the propagation, production and processing or packaging areas.
The biosecurity plan is designed to locate areas for composting or disposal of organic debris away from the place of production.
Washing facilities for cleaning and disinfecting equipment and vehicles are located in an area that prevents pest introduction and spread.
The place of production is built so it can be easily cleaned and disinfected.
There is a map of the place of production that includes specific areas such as the entrance, shipping areas and production areas.
The map of the place of production indicates the location of the biosecurity zones.
The map of the place of production includes the location of devices such as yellow sticky traps.
The map of the place of production indicates the flow of plant material and crops.

3.2 Biosecurity Zones

Target outcome:

Controlled Access Zones (CAZs) and Restricted Access Zones (RAZs) are established and communication protocols which explain the importance of these areas within the place of production are implemented.

Benefits: Specific areas of similar levels of risk are identified and demarcated, providing an indication of where in the place of production and in the continuum of production biosecurity intervention is warranted. Biosecurity zones are classified based on the use of an area, risk of pest spread, access to the area and biosecurity measures required to prevent the introduction and spread of pests in a place of production. Restricted Access Zones may be used to identify areas where high risk activities take place, such as where there is a high risk associated with the spread of a pest into and/or out of an area. High risk activities that may require a Restricted Access Zone include: an infested area within the production area, the propagation area or an area to protect plant material such as transplants.

Controlled Access Zones may be used in areas of the place of production where low risk activities take place and may not require the level of biosecurity measures that are implemented for Restricted Access Zones. Examples of low risk activities that may require a Controlled Access Zone include: storage and product handling areas.

Risks

The level of biosecurity measures applied to a Restricted Access Zone or a Controlled Access Zone will be consistent with the risk of pest introduction or spread associated with each zone. Biosecurity risks and mitigation measures that may be implemented to prevent pest spread into and out of these zones include the following:

Access to the Biosecurity Zone

Control the entry and exit into and between the biosecurity zones by designating access points. Various tools can be used to restrict or control access to these zones, such as signs and automated or locked doors. Signs may be posted around the biosecurity zone to advise employees and visitors of the high risk and restricted access. Please refer to Appendix 2 for examples of signs that can be posted for biosecurity zones and at the main entrance of the place of production.

Traffic Flow Through the Place of Production

Pests can be spread by the movement of inputs, people, vehicles, equipment and outputs through the place of production. Based on the location of the biosecurity zones, specific routes should be used to mitigate the risk of pest spread from infested to non-infested areas.

Footwear, Clothing and Equipment

Equipment that is moved between different biosecurity areas should be cleaned and disinfected when it is necessary. In addition, footbaths, hand washing stations, disposable coveralls and footwear covers should be placed at the entrances of the Restricted Access Zones. See section 3.3 Movement of People, Vehicles and Equipment for information on the movement of people, vehicles and equipment.

Biosecurity Zones Self-Assessment Checklist

Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
The activities that take place at the place of production have been assessed to identify biosecurity zones.
The biosecurity plan includes information regarding the biosecurity zones and related biosecurity measures.
The training program includes information regarding biosecurity zones and the related biosecurity measures such as traffic flow in the place of production.
Access to the Biosecurity Zone
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
Signs are posted around the biosecurity zones to advise people of the risks and restricted access.
Access to biosecurity zones is controlled using tools such as signs and locked or automatic doors.
Traffic Flow Through the Place of Production
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
The flow of inputs, people, vehicles, equipment and outputs is designed based on the location of the biosecurity zones.
Footwear, Clothing and Equipment
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
Footbaths, hand washing stations, disposable coveralls and footwear covers have been placed at the entrance of biosecurity zones.

3.3 Movement of People, Vehicles and Equipment

Target outcome:

The movement of people, vehicles and equipment do not introduce or spread pests within a place of production.

Movement of people

Benefits: Managing the biosecurity risks associated with the movement of people into a place of production and between biosecurity zones can mitigate the risk of pests that can be carried on footwear, clothing and hair.

Risks

Human mediated dispersal is an important means of pest spread and the movement of employees and visitors in a place of production can be a source of pests. Often human mediated dispersal can move pests at a faster rate and reach a greater distance than natural dispersal. Some examples of human mediated dispersal include clothes, shoes, cameras, pens, note pads, amplifying lens and skin. Biosecurity measures such as hand wash and footbath stations at all entrances and exits of the production areas may help mitigate pest introduction and spread by people.

Visitors

Prior to entering, visitors should report to the main office of the place of production where they are required to fill out a sign-in sheet. The sign-in sheet should include information such as name, date, the areas visited and recent contact with plant material or product. For an example of a sign-in sheet please refer to Appendix 3. This information may be useful when responding to a pest detection.

Assess the risk of the visitor entering the place of production and provide them with disposable footwear covers, coveralls and gloves when necessary.

Employees

Wearing clean clothes and/or providing coveralls or clean uniforms to employees on a daily basis can reduce the spread of pests within the place of production. Employees should also be given training on the work flow of the place of production to prevent pest spread into and out of biosecurity zones.

As vegetables brought by employees for lunch can be a potential source of pests, the lunchroom may be isolated from the rest of the production area and packing house. Leftovers and waste should be properly disposed of.

Movement of vehicles and equipment

Benefits: Vehicles and equipment may harbor pests. Movement of vehicles and equipment is particularly important when brought into the place of production and when moved between biosecurity zones. Managing the movement of vehicles and equipment by designating routes, assessing risk, as well as implementing cleaning and disinfecting when necessary, can help to mitigate the risk of pest introduction and spread.

Risks

Pests can be spread by different types of vehicles and equipment, such as:

  • Shipping containers
  • Forklifts
  • Trucks that are used to transport final product
  • Sprayers
  • Carts
  • Harvesting scissors and knives
  • Pallets

Protocols and policies can be included in the biosecurity plan to indicate when vehicles and equipment should be cleaned and disinfected. Appendix 4 provides an example of a policy for cleaning vehicle tires.

Trucks are used to ship all kinds of goods and to different places of productions. The following biosecurity measures may mitigate pest spread by trucks:

  • Clean and disinfect trucks after every shipment of product.
  • Request that carriers provide their sanitation procedure or a letter of guarantee stating there are procedures in place to clean trucks between loads.
  • Prior to re-entry into the place of production, disinfect the forklift that is used to load and unload the truck if the truck has been moved between different places of production.

Appendix 5 provides an example of a checklist format that can be used to help ensure the implementation of biosecurity measures when using trucks to ship final product.

Movement of People, Vehicles and Equipment Self-Assessment Checklist

Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
Employees and visitors park in designated areas.
Footbaths and hand wash stations have been placed at the entrance to the production area(s).
Movement of people – Visitors
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
Visitors report to the main office prior to entering the place of production.
Visitors fill out a sign-in sheet prior to entering the place of production.
The risk of visitors entering place of production is assessed to determine the necessary biosecurity measures.
Disposable foot wear covers, clean coveralls and gloves are provided to visitors when necessary.
Visitors are briefed on the biosecurity protocols that need to be followed.
There is a policy to ensure visitors follow the biosecurity protocols.
Visitors are accompanied by a designated employee when moving within the place of production.
Visitors only access areas that are necessary for their activities.
Movement of people – Employees
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
Employees have been trained on the biosecurity protocols for the place of production.
Movement of employees through the place of production is minimized.
Employees have been trained to know the work flow through the place of production.
Employees wash their hands after handling imported or domestic product, as well as after breaks and meals.
There are designated areas for employees to have lunch and store their personal items.
The lunchroom is isolated from the production area(s) and packing house.
Leftovers and waste from employee lunches are disposed of properly.
Movement of vehicles and equipment
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
The biosecurity plan includes protocols to indicate when vehicles and equipment should be cleaned and disinfected.
A cleaning schedule is followed by employees.
The pallet supplier is informed of the biosecurity requirements.
The shipping container supplier is informed of the biosecurity requirements.
Re-used containers are cleaned and disinfected between uses.
Cardboard cartons are recycled and are not re-used.
Packing is secured during storage to prevent pest introduction.
Pruning tools are disinfected prior to use and between crops or different production areas, especially if a pest is present.
Equipment is cleaned and disinfected after use in a biosecurity zone.
Organic debris is removed from the wheels of equipment that is moved between production areas.
Activities are strategically sequenced to minimize the cleaning and disinfecting of equipment.
Equipment from other places of production is cleaned before being brought into the place of production.
Trucks that are used to transport product are cleaned after every shipment of product.
A copy of the sanitation procedures or a letter of guarantee that sanitation procedures are in place to sanitize trucks between loads is requested from carrier.
The forklift used to load and unload trucks that have been to multiple places of production is cleaned.

3.4 Production Inputs

Target outcome:

Production inputs are not a potential source of pests.

Benefits: Receiving inputs such as transplants, growing media, water, seeds or product from external sources has the potential to introduce pests to the place of production. Pest introduction may be mitigated by assessing the risks associated with inputs sourced from suppliers and inspecting inputs upon arrival.

Risks

There is a risk of pest introduction and spread from all inputs, especially those from external sources. For example, packing and repacking of imported and domestically sourced product presents a risk of pest introduction into the packing house. Purchasing inputs from a supplier with a biosecurity program in place should be considered to help mitigate pest risks. Inputs should also be inspected prior to their acceptance into the place of production.

Records of purchased inputs should be maintained and can include the source, number or quantity of the product purchased, and where it is planted or located in the place of production. These records can be used if a pest is detected.

Water can be a pest vector. When sourced from re-circulation water, ponds, streams or other surface water sources it should be disinfected as required. Water disinfection equipment includes heat, UV radiation, ozone, and filtration.

For more information regarding biosecurity measures that can mitigate the pathways of transmission presented by inputs, please refer to section 2.2 Pest Vectors.

All inputs should be inspected upon arrival.

Production Inputs Self-Assessment Checklist

Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
Input suppliers are contacted to request information regarding their biosecurity program.
Purchasing records of inputs are maintained.
Inputs are inspected for pests before entering the place of production.
If a pest is found when inputs are inspected, the product is returned to the supplier, cleaned and disinfected or disposed of, if required.
Inputs from unknown sources may be considered high risk and are segregated from the final product or propagative material to be monitored for pests.
The source of water is known and is regularly tested.
Recycled water is treated prior to use.
Containers that are re-used in the place of production are cleaned between uses.

3.5 Production Outputs

Target Outcome:

Finished product leaving the place of production is free of pests of concern.

Production wastes are managed, treated and disposed of to reduce the risk of spreading pests.

Benefits: Managing outputs, final product and waste mitigates the potential risk of pest introduction and spread within a place of production, to neighbouring places of production or to areas where the product may be received (from domestic to international destinations).

Risks

Packing House

Final product produced in the place of production is inspected for pests as it moves through the packing line. However, packing and repacking imported and domestic product presents a risk of pest introduction to the packing house. To mitigate this risk, product should be purchased from a supplier with a biosecurity program in place and inspected prior to its acceptance into the place of production. In addition, employees working in the packing house should be given training on identifying pests. Posters may be hung in the packing house to help employees identify pests.

To prevent the spread of pests to other places of production by the final product, the truck used for shipping should be inspected for pests and organic debris prior to loading the final product. In addition, employees should ensure pallets are free from damage and other signs of pests.

Infested or unsaleable product from foreign and domestic sources should be covered and disposed of promptly to avoid pest spread.

Production Area

Effective plant health management as outlined in section 2.1 Management Practices is essential to producing a high quality finished product that is free of pests of concern. In addition, a traceability system should be in place such as labelling final product to assess with traceback if pests are detected once the product has left the place of production.

Production waste such as prunings, infested material, old material and weeds present a risk of pest spread within a production area and should be disposed of properly.

Packing House and Production Area

For both the production area and packing house, there should be a one-way- flow of material to prevent pest introduction or spread to other areas of the place of production. Knowledge of the pathway of pest transmission should be used to ensure appropriate biosecurity measures are taken to dispose of material to prevent pest spread. For example, plant material infected by bacterial canker should be placed in sealed bags to be transported to the disposal site. The material should not be transported throughout the place of production in a manner that could spread the canker to other areas. If production waste is not from infested material, the cuttings may be placed in walk ways to promote the transfer of biological controls.

Disposal sites should be located away from the place of production to prevent re-infestation. The pest pathway of transmission should be evaluated to prevent the release of pests during disposal, as infested plant material presents a high risk of re-infesting the same crop or infesting other crops. For example, if the pest is spread by wind, the infested material should be disposed of by deep burial, transportation to a municipal disposal facility or other methods that minimize the risk of pest spread and introduction. Producers should also be aware of any provincial waste management regulations that may apply.

Bins that have been used in the disposal process of infested material or unsaleable product that will be re-used within the place of production should be cleaned and disinfected promptly after use. An appropriate disinfectant for the pest should be used.

Production Output Self-Assessment Checklist

Packing House
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
Final product is inspected for pests while moving through the packing line.
Imported and domestic product is sourced from a supplier with a biosecurity program in place.
Imported and domestic product is inspected prior to acceptance into the place of production.
Employees working in the packing house are given training to identify pests.
Pictures of pests are posted in the packing house to help employees identify pests.
Trucks used for shipping are inspected for pests and organic debris prior to loading final product.
Pallets are inspected for damage and pests prior to loading final product.
Infested or unsaleable product is covered and promptly disposed of.
Production Area
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
A traceability system is in place that facilitates trace forward and backward for final product.
Organic debris is disposed of properly to prevent the spread of pests.
Packing House and Production Area
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
There is a one-way flow of material through the production area and packing house to prevent the spread of pests.
Knowledge of pest pathways of transmission is used to dispose of organic debris in a manner that prevents pest spread.
Disposal sites are located away from the place of production to prevent pest re-infestation.
Dumpster lids are kept closed.
Bins that have been used to dispose of infested material or unsaleable product that will be re-used within the place of production are cleaned and disinfected promptly after use.
Awareness of any provincial waste management regulations.

3.6 Maintenance of Facilities and Property

Target Outcome:

Introduction and spread of pests is limited by keeping buildings and equipment in good repair.

Benefits: Keeping buildings and equipment in good repair, in addition to cleaning and disinfecting will help limit the opportunity for the introduction and spread of pests.

Risks

The largest risk of not maintaining a place of production is pest introduction. Although greenhouses are not a sealed area, as there are vents through which beneficial insects can move in and out, there are biosecurity measures that can be implemented to minimize pest risk. A routine facility and property maintenance program that includes activities such as ensuring that holes are fixed and that doors and windows close properly will help mitigate the introduction of pests such as rodents.

A maintenance program should also include maintenance of equipment such as pruning knives. If pruning knives are dull, plants may become more susceptible to pests when pruned.

Activities to maintain the exterior of the place of production should also be included in the maintenance program. This may include a weed-free buffer around the place of production to mitigate the risk of pest introduction.

To ensure that maintenance activities are routinely completed, a record of the activities may be kept. A checklist of the activities may be used to record the timing and completion of activities.

Maintenance of Facilities and Property Self-Assessment Checklist

Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes No Not Applicable
A maintenance program has been developed and implemented.
The maintenance program includes activities to maintain the interior of the place of production, such as cleaning the floors to prevent spread of pests through organic debris.
The maintenance program includes activities to maintain the exterior of the place of production, such as a weed-free buffer.
Equipment maintenance is included in the maintenance program.
Records of the completion of the maintenance activities are kept.
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