National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the Greenhouse, Nursery and Floriculture Sectors
3.0 Farm Operational Management

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Farm operational management is fundamental to the development and implementation of a biosecurity plan. Evaluation of the risks associated with the activities that take place at the place of production is necessary. Potential biosecurity risks can originate from 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 place of production is important for identifying the source and nature of potential pests in the area. Understanding the layout of a place of production and neighbouring places of production is vital information for helping to reduce the risk of pest introduction and spread. The ability to illustrate the layout of place of production can assist in training new employees, directing visitors, and planning future production processes. Understanding the logic of crop movement and work patterns is important in developing, implementing and modifying a biosecurity plan. The integration of all knowledge when choosing the location of a place of production and when designing the layout will help optimize the success of planting objectives.

Considerations:

Geography and environmental factors

  • Plant on sites that are not at risk of pest introduction by the prevailing wind direction as wind can carry pests such as spores or insects.
  • Select sites that are free of the pests of concern.
  • Make use of topography to assist with drainage and reduction of standing water in production areas. Drainage patterns and surface water movement can affect the potential for pest introduction and distribution.
  • Asses the below ground concerns such as compacted subsoil and low water-holding capacity that may impede drainage.
  • Consider water availability, quality and accessibility.
  • For plants that will be grown in open fields, conduct an assessment of the history and previous use of newly acquired or leased land. This will provide knowledge of the pests which might be of concern, and will also provide information on the potential build-up of chemical control products.

Layout

  • Neighbouring activities such as type of crop in production, timing of harvest, composting practices, the importation of produce or non-agricultural activities may be the source of pest introduction. It is recommended to use this information to make risk management decisions on site selection.
  • Production and propagation areas should be considered areas of higher risk for pest introduction. When considering the layout of the place of production designate separate areas for processing, production and propagation. Additional biosecurity measures may be required for processing plant material that was not grown within the place of production.
  • Locate designated receiving areas for inspection of propagation materials away from production areas. The receiving area should also allow for cleaning and treatment, if necessary.
  • Locate designated areas for holding and disposal of crop waste, manure, growing media or compost away from areas where plants are propagated or grown to prevent pest introduction and spread. Consider wind direction and surface drainage when locating designated areas as they may re-introduce pests to production areas.
  • Locate washing facilities for cleaning and disinfecting equipment and vehicles in a low risk area that prevents pest introduction and spread. Consider the capacity for water supply, waste water collection and disposal.
  • Develop a map of the place of production that illustrates property lines, roadways, borders and fencing, buildings, production areas and any waterways. It is recommended that the flow of plant material be described on this map. Where activities take place indoors, consider developing a floor plan as well. Maps previously developed for Environmental Farm Plans and Food Safety Plans may be useful for this purpose.

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. By identifying areas of similar risk within the place of production biosecurity zones can be used to separate high and low risk activities. High risk activities that may require a Restricted Access Zone include: an infested field or propagation area. Restricted Access Zones may be required to protect plant material such as mother stock or an area where a pest is present. Examples of low risk activities that may require a Controlled Access Zone include: production fields, storage and product handling areas. See Figure 4 at the end of this section for an example of designating Controlled and Restricted Access Zones in a greenhouse.

Considerations:

  • 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.
  • Appropriate signs at main entrances and field approaches facilitate traffic flow as well as indicate biosecurity zones and contact numbers.
  • Control entry and exit into and between biosecurity zones by designating access points and using various techniques and tools, such as signs or automated doors.
  • Based on the location of the biosecurity zones, specific routes are used to move inputs, people, vehicles, equipment, and outputs to ensure pests are not spread from high to low risk areas.
  • Incorporate information about biosecurity zones and traffic flow into the biosecurity plan as well as site specific training programs.
  • It is recommended that there be a one-way flow of people, goods, products and equipment from clean or low risk areas to areas of a known potential risk. This may be challenging for some facilities depending on existing structures or the layout of the operation. For example, if shipping and receiving are conducted in the same area timing can be used as a biosecurity measure to minimize the risk of potentially infested inputs contaminating final product. Figure 4 illustrates a place of production where shipping and receiving are conducted in the same area.
  • Equipment that may need to move between different areas should be cleaned and disinfected when there is the need to move from high risk to low risk areas. See section 3.3 for information on the movement of vehicles and equipment.

Figure 4: Example of Designating Controlled and Restricted Access Zones in a Floriculture Greenhouse

Figure 4: Example of Designating Controlled and Restricted Access Zones in a Floriculture Greenhouse. Description follows.
Description for Figure 4: Example of Designating Controlled and Restricted Access Zones in a Floriculture Greenhouse

The diagram includes three greenhouses, a warehouse space with a shipping and receiving area, two coolers and an office with a visitor entrance. The office and visitor entrance are uncontrolled areas, meaning this area is not restricted for biosecurity threats. The two greenhouses that are used as production spaces, the two coolers, the warehouse space as well as the shipping and receiving area are Controlled Access Zones (CAZ). Access to a CAZ is restricted or otherwise controlled in order to mitigate or prevent biosecurity threats. Growing space is a good example of an area at risk of biosecurity threats. The third greenhouse that contains stock plants is a Restricted Access Zone. A RAZ is an area, generally located within a CAZ, where access by people or equipment is further restricted. Preventing access to this area aims to reduce or mitigate a key biosecurity risk. Examples of areas at higher risk may include: propagation areas, stock plant growing space, and production of plants with greater pest sensitivity.

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 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 the place of production; refer to section 4.0 Education, Training and Communication for more information.
  • Visitors and service providers should report to the office or have an employee meet them in a designated area to receive a briefing on the biosecurity protocols.
  • Visitors, service providers and employees should park in designated areas.
  • Visitors, service providers and employees may only access areas that are necessary for their activities.
  • Visitors are transported about the place of production using a farm vehicle. When this is not possible, off-farm vehicles and equipment are cleaned prior to entry into the place of production.
  • Keep a visitors log to identify the date visited, the areas visited and the most recent contact with greenhouse, nursery and floriculture material prior to visiting the place of production. This information may be useful when responding to a pest detection.
  • Control access to restricted areas with locked gates or buildings within the place of production to authorized personnel only.
  • Provide hand wash and foot bath stations at all entrances and exits of production areas. Disposable or dedicated outerwear as well as footwear should also be provided to service providers and visitors that will be entering production areas.

Vehicles and equipment
Benefits: Vehicles and equipment may harbor pests. Movement of vehicles and equipment is particularly important when coming into the place of production as well as when it is moved between biosecurity zones. Managing the movement of vehicles and equipment by designating routes, evaluating risk and implementing cleaning and disinfection, when necessary, mitigates the risk of introduction and spread of pests.

Considerations:

  • Employees should be trained on the traffic flow for the place of production; refer to section 4.0 Education, Training and Communication for more information.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment after it has been used in a high risk area. Thorough cleaning of equipment between uses in different production areas may mitigate the spread of pests. To minimize cleaning of equipment strategically sequence activities.
  • All tools used for pruning plants should be disinfected before use and between crops or different sections within the place of production, especially if a pest is present.
  • Any vehicle, such as shippers or service providers, entering the place of production may harbor pests.

3.4 Production Inputs

Target Outcome:

Production inputs are not a potential source of pests.

Benefits: Receiving inputs such as propagative material, soil, growing media, water or packaging material has the potential to introduce pests to the place of production. Pest introduction may be mitigated by evaluating the risks associated with inputs sourced from suppliers.

Considerations:

  • Production inputs should be inspected for signs of pests before entering the place of production and if pests are present inputs are disposed of or cleaned and disinfected.
  • If the source or risk level of inputs is unknown it may be considered high risk and segregated from final product or propagative material to allow for monitoring of pests.
  • Propagative material can be the source of a pest introduction. Evaluate the risks associated with suppliers. Isolate and inspect upon entry into the place of production.
  • Soil associated with field grown plants can be a source of pests. Purchase bareroot or washed material, when possible.
  • Know the source and test the quality of water supplied to the place of production to manage nutrient content. Water quality is important for healthy plants.
  • If required, treat recycled water to prevent the spread of pests within the place of production.
  • Recyclable or reusable plastic containers should be cleaned and disinfected as necessary prior to use.
  • Maintain purchasing records for production inputs. Records of the source of a production input, number of plants and date planted can be important when responding to a pest detection.

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).

Considerations:

  • Quality assurance is an important consideration when product leaves a place of production. Inspect final product leaving the place of production for pests of concern.
  • Effective plant health management as outlined in section 2.0 of the standard is essential to producing a high quality finished product that is free of pests of concern.
  • Identify and label final product according to growing area as this is important for traceability in the event of a pest detection once the product has left the place of production.
  • Locate compost piles away from production areas.
  • Dispose of infected plant material by deep burial, transportation to a municipal disposal facility or other methods that minimize the risk of pest spread and introduction. During disposal it is important to prevent the release of pests as infected plant material presents a high risk of re-infecting the same crop or infecting other crops.

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.

Considerations:

  • Develop and implement a routine facility and property maintenance program that includes preventative maintenance activities. This may include separate plans for the maintenance activities required for the interior and exterior of the place of production.
  • A maintenance program for greenhouses may include a weed-free buffer around the greenhouse.
  • Keep a record of maintenance activities. A checklist of activities may be used to record the timing and activities that have been completed.
  • Minimize or eliminate areas where pests can enter by ensuring holes are fixed, doors close properly and windows can be closed.
  • Develop and implement a procedure to clean the greenhouse, which includes cleaning the structure and irrigation system.
  • Some operations are highly mechanized and this equipment is not always easy to clean. When using this machinery, inspect and verify that propagative material is free of pests of concern to mitigate the risk of pest spread.
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