Nursery Sector Biosecurity Guide
3.0 Nursery Operational Management

Nursery Operational ManagementFootnote 3

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

3.1 Nursery Location and Layout

Nursery Location and LayoutFootnote 4

Target Outcome

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

Benefits: The landscape and properties surrounding a nursery are potential sources of pests. When choosing a location and designing the layout of a nursery, consideration of the surrounding area can help mitigate pest introduction and spread to a nursery. Knowledge of crop movement and work patterns may also be helpful in designing the layout of a nursery. A map that illustrates the surrounding areas and the location of high risk areas can help assess the pathways of pest transmission and identify the critical points where biosecurity measures may be applied. The ability to illustrate the layout of a nursery can also assist in training new employees, directing visitors and planning future production processes. Integrating this knowledge can provide a solid foundation for developing and implementing a biosecurity plan.

Considerations

Geography and environmental factors

  • For plants that will be grown in open fields, conduct an assessment of the cropping history and previous use of newly acquired or leased land. This will provide knowledge of the potential sources of pests of concern, information on the potential build-up of chemical control products, as well as the range of pest control products and fertilizer used.
  • Make risk management decisions for site selection based on neighbouring activities such as type of crop in production, timing of harvest, composting practices or the importation of produce, as these activities may be potential sources of pest introduction.
  • Be knowledgeable of the regulated and non-regulated pests that occur in the area, including invasive plants. Knowing the pests that are present in the area will help assess the risks to a nursery and implementation of the correct biosecurity measures.
  • Within surrounding properties, treatment or removal of plant species that are invasive or potential pest vectors or hosts may be required.
  • Assess soil and container media characteristics for suitability to various nursery crops.
  • Make use of topography to assist with drainage and reduction of standing water in production areas. Drainage patterns and surface water movement can affect pest introduction and spread. For example, pathogens that cause root rots and other pests can be spread in areas of poor drainage where standing water occurs.

Layout

  • Develop a map of the nursery that illustrates indoor and outdoor activities. The map may include the soil types, crops, irrigation system, drainage, prevailing wind directions, composting areas, propagation areas, production areas, shipping area, receiving area, high risk areas and the flow of plant material.
  • Production and propagation areas should be considered high-risk areas for pest introduction as the plants are more susceptible to pests than others. Designate separate areas for production and propagation.
  • Locate designated receiving areas for inspection of inputs away from production areas. The receiving area should also allow for cleaning and treatment of the area, if necessary.
  • Locate the segregation area, also referred to as an isolation or quarantine area, away from the production area(s). Temporarily store plants purchased from external sources in this area for inspection. Plants can be moved to the production area once it is determined they are not infested with pests of concern.
  • Designate separate areas for shipping and receiving to reduce the risk of pest spread from inputs to finished product. If the shipping and receiving areas are the same, biosecurity measures such as separation by timing may be used so that inputs and finished product are not in the area at the same time.
  • Locate designated areas for composting crop waste and for storing manure, growing media or compost away from propagation and production areas to prevent pest re-introduction and spread. Consider wind direction and surface drainage when locating composting areas to minimize the risk of re-introducing pests to production areas.
  • Locate washing facilities for cleaning and disinfecting equipment and vehicles in an area that mitigates pest introduction and spread. Consider the capacity for water supply, waste water collection and disposal.
  • Consider pathways of pest transmission when designing new structures and production areas. For example, install stainless steel benches that can be easily disinfected instead of wood.

Location and Layout Self-Assessment Checklist

Geography and environmental factors
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
For newly acquired or leased land, information is gathered on the cropping history and previous land use.
Sites are selected using risk management decisions based on neighbouring activities.
Awareness of regulated and non-regulated pests that occur in the area.
Invasive plants or potential pest vectors within surrounding areas are treated or removed.
Soil and container media characteristics are assessed for suitability to various nursery crops.
Optimal water drainage and surface water movement are ensured to prevent pest introduction and spread.
Layout
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
There is a detailed map of the nursery.
The layout of the nursery is designed to minimize the potential for pest movement.
The layout is designed to optimize plant movement between the different stages of production, from propagation to shipping.
Separate areas are designated for production and propagation.
Separate areas have been designated for shipping and receiving.
Receiving areas are located away from production areas.
An area has been designated as the segregation area.
Areas for composting crop waste and for storing manure, growing media or compost are located away from propagation and production areas.
Pathways of pest transmission such as wind direction have been considered to locate compost area.
Equipment and vehicle washing facilities are located in an area that prevents pest introduction and spread.
Pathways of pest transmission are considered when designing new structures and production areas.

3.2 Biosecurity Zones

Biosecurity ZonesFootnote 5

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: Biosecurity zones are used to identify and control access to high risk areas of the nursery. Some nurseries use the terms Controlled and Restricted Access Zones to label biosecurity zones, while other nurseries use the term high-risk area. This Guide will use the term high-risk area. A high-risk area is an area that requires additional biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of pests either into or out of an area. An area can be identified as high risk if:

  1. The area, such as a segregation area, is used for a high-risk activity such as monitoring plant material from external sources for pests or containing plants infested with a pest of concern.

    OR

  2. The plants in an area are more susceptible than others to pests such as mother plants or propagative plant material.

The level of biosecurity measures applied will be consistent with the risk of pest introduction or spread associated with each zone or area. The common biosecurity measures used include separation from other production areas by a buffer zone or physical separation and signs to restrict access.

Considerations

  • Access to high-risk areas is restricted to authorized personnel and is controlled by signs, locked gates or doors. Signs should be posted at entry points to advise people that the area is high risk and that access is restricted. Refer to Appendix 2 for examples of biosecurity signs.
  • Plan the flow of work, people, vehicles and equipment through the nursery to minimize the risk of pest spread between crops. This flow will depend on the biosecurity risks present in each area of the nursery.
  • Indicate high-risk areas and the flow of work, people, vehicles and equipment on the nursery map.
  • Employee training programs should include the flow of work, people, vehicles and equipment in the nursery.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment that is moved into or out of a high-risk area when necessary.
  • Provide hand wash and footbath stations, as well as disposable or dedicated outerwear and footwear at entrances and exits of high-risk areas.
Biosecurity Zones Self-Assessment Checklist
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
Areas of the nursery have been designated as high risk.
Signs are used to inform people of high-risk area(s).
Entry to the high-risk area(s) is controlled by locked doors in the greenhouse areas and gates and/or fencing in field production areas.
Flow of work, people, vehicles and equipment is designed to minimize the risk of pest spread between crops.
Protocols are in place for work, people, vehicles and equipment when working in a high-risk area(s).
High-risk area(s) and flow of work, people, vehicles and equipment are indicated on the nursery map.
Employee training program includes the flow of work, people, vehicles and equipment.
Equipment is cleaned and disinfected when moved into or out of a high-risk area(s).
Hand wash stations, footbaths and disposable or dedicated outwear and footwear are provided at entrances and exits of high-risk area(s).

3.3 Movement of People, Vehicles and Equipment

Movement of People, Vehicles and EquipmentFootnote 6

Target Outcome

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

Benefits: Pests can be moved into the nursery and between production areas by people, vehicles and equipment. Managing the movement of people, vehicles and equipment by designating routes, assessing risk, as well as implementing cleaning and disinfecting when necessary can help mitigate the risk of pest introduction and spread. For further information regarding cleaning and disinfecting, refer to section 3.4 Maintenance of Facilities and Property. It is important to assess the risk of the movement of people, vehicles and equipment to determine the appropriate biosecurity measures that may help mitigate pest risk.

Considerations

Movement of people

  • Protocols are in place regarding the movement of employees between production areas. For example, movement into and out of high-risk areas is restricted.
  • Employees have been given training regarding the movement protocols and required biosecurity measures. Refer to section 2.0 Education, Training and Communication for more information.
  • Post signs at the main entrances and field entry points to advise visitors of the need for permission to access the nursery and to direct them to the appropriate sign-in area.
  • Signs include contact information for nursery employees that are authorized to grant access to the nursery. Refer to Appendix 2 for examples of signs.
  • Visitors report to the main office or have an employee meet them in a designated area to receive a briefing on the required biosecurity measures.
  • Keep a visitors log to identify the date visited, the areas visited and the most recent contact with plant material prior to visiting the nursery. This information may be useful when responding to a pest detection. Please see Appendix 3 for an example of a visitors log.
  • Visitors may have visited multiple nurseries or other agricultural facilities prior to arrival. Assess the risk of each visitor and implement the appropriate biosecurity measures such as disposable footwear covers.
  • Visitors and employees only access areas that are necessary for their activities.

Movement of vehicles and equipment

  • Employees should be trained to know the traffic flow of the nursery. Refer to section 2.0 Education, Training and Communication for more information.
  • Visitors and employees park in designated areas.
  • Prior to entry into the nursery, assess the risk of vehicles that have been at other nurseries or other agricultural facilities to determine the necessary biosecurity measures. This may include cleaning and disinfecting of the off-farm vehicle or transporting visitors in a designated nursery vehicle.
  • Clean on-farm vehicles and sprayers when moved between production areas.

Movement of People, Vehicles and Equipment Self-Assessment Checklist

Movement of people
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
Protocols are in place regarding the movement of employees between production areas.
Employees are trained on movement protocols and required biosecurity measures.
Permission is required for visitors to enter the nursery beyond the parking area and main office.
Signs at entrances and field entry points direct visitors to the sign-in area.
Signs include contact information of employees authorized to grant access.
Visitors report to the main office and sign a visitors log prior to entering the nursery.
A visitors log is kept to identify the date visited, the areas of the nursery visited and the most recent contact with plant material prior to visiting the nursery.
The pest risk of visitors is assessed to determine the required biosecurity measures.
Visitors receive information on the required biosecurity measures.
Visitors and employees only access areas required to complete their work.
Movement of vehicles and equipment
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
Employees have been trained and know the flow of vehicles and equipment in the nursery.
Visitors and employees park in designated areas.
Required biosecurity measures are determined by assessing the pest risk of vehicles that have been to other nurseries.
Off-farm vehicles and equipment are cleaned when their entry onto the nursery is required.
On-farm vehicles and equipment are cleaned when moved between production areas.

3.4 Maintenance of Facilities and Property

Maintenance of Facilities and PropertyFootnote 7

Target Outcome

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

Benefits: Cleaning and maintaining nursery property, buildings and equipment limits the opportunity for pest introduction and spread. Knowledge of pests and pathways of pest transmission can be used to determine the frequency of cleaning and maintenance activities. Depending on the pest, equipment may need to be cleaned between uses on individual trees or between production areas. This knowledge should be used to implement a sanitation program and a maintenance program.

Considerations

  • Use a checklist to itemize the required sanitation and maintenance activities.

Maintenance Program

  • Implement a routine maintenance program that includes preventive measures and procedures for interior and exterior activities such as the maintenance of structures and production areas.
  • Schedule maintenance activities to ensure that each production area is revisited within an appropriate timeline.
  • Control weeds and host material for pests of concern around the beds and growing areas. This can be accomplished through mechanical or chemical treatment of non-crop areas and physical barriers, such as gravel or plastic-covered areas.
  • Minimize or eliminate areas where pests can enter enclosed production areas such as screenhouses, hoop houses or greenhouses by ensuring holes are fixed, doors close properly and windows can be closed.
  • Maintain deer fencing, tree guards, and rodent traps and bait stations to prevent damage.
  • Maintain and calibrate spray equipment to provide a uniform and accurate pesticide application.

Sanitation Program

  • Implement a sanitation program for cleaning equipment, including the irrigation system.
  • Attention should be given to cleaning propagation equipment.
  • Clean container production areas between crops, including outdoor production beds, greenhouses and hoop houses.
  • When a pest has been detected, specific cleaning protocols for buildings and equipment such as pruners, shears, moving and harvesting equipment may be required to prevent pest spread.
  • Strategically sequence work flow to minimize cleaning of equipment.
Maintenance of Facility and Property Self-Assessment Checklist
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
A checklist is used to itemize the required maintenance and sanitation activities.
Maintenance of Facility and Property Self-Assessment Checklist
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
A maintenance program is in place that includes interior and exterior activities.
Maintenance activities are scheduled to ensure each field or production area is revisited within an appropriate time.
Weeds and host material around production areas are controlled.
Screenhouses, hoop houses and greenhouses are maintained to prevent pest entry.
Deer fencing is maintained to prevent large animal entry to production areas.
Tree guards are maintained to prevent rodent feeding at the base of trees.
Traps and bait stations are maintained to minimize rodent populations and prevent damage to stored crops.
Spray equipment is regularly maintained and calibrated.
Sanitation Program
Biosecurity Measure Yes Sometimes Never Not Applicable
A sanitation program is in place.
Container production areas are cleaned between crops.
Specific cleaning protocols are available when a pest is detected.
Work flow is strategically sequenced to minimize cleaning.
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