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National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide - Proactive Management of Plant Resources

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Table of Contents

A) Background

B) A Generic Guide

C) Developing Your Farm Biosecurity Plan

D) Definitions

E) Elements of a Farm-Level Biosecurity Plan

1. Farm Location and Layout

1.1 Geography
1.2 Layout
1.3 Traffic Flow
1.4 Landscape

2. Operational Routines

2.1 Biosecurity Zones
2.2 Movement of Employees and Visitors
2.3 Movement of Vehicles and Equipment
2.4 Construction and Maintenance of Facilities and Property
2.5 Irrigation Water
2.6 Compost, Manure and Soil
2.7 Biological Vectors of Pests
2.8 Planning and Training

3. Crop Health Management

3.1 Good Management Practices
3.2 Pest Surveillance
3.3 Pest Response Plans

Appendix A: Farm-Level Biosecurity Checklist for Crops

A) Background

"Crop biosecurity" is a general description for a set of measures designed to protect Canada's plant resources from crop pests at the national, regional, and individual farm levels. A pest is considered any thing that is injurious or potentially injurious, whether directly or indirectly, to plants, or to products or by-products of plants, and it includes any plant prescribed as a pest.

Why Is Crop Biosecurity Important?

Maintenance of the highest possible plant health status is vitally important to the sustainability and profitability of the Canadian agricultural sector. The success of Canada's agricultural exports is linked to the excellent phytosanitary status of our crops and crop products. Access to existing markets and to new and emerging markets will increasingly depend on our ability to demonstrate the minimal phytosanitary risk that Canadian products pose to our trading partners. Increasingly, crop biosecurity standards may be needed to meet processor demands, to retain market access, and to ensure market competitiveness for Canada's agricultural products.

For the following reasons, it is important to keep pests away from your operation:

The best defence against pests is to implement sound biosecurity practices at the farm level.

What Is Farm-Level Crop Biosecurity?

The focus of this guide is farm-level biosecurity, although it is recognized that biosecurity interventions are necessary along the continuum of production systems, at all levels: regional, national, and international.

Farm-level crop biosecurity is a series of management practices designed to reduce the introduction of pests onto a farm (bioexclusion) and to minimize their spread within the farm and beyond (biocontainment). This includes pests not established in Canada, pests established in limited areas of Canada, and pests widely distributed that can spread from farm to farm. Pests can reduce productivity, affect farm incomes, increase labour costs, reduce the value of farmland, close export markets, affect domestic consumption, and reduce prices that producers receive for their products. In addition to adverse effects on the agricultural economy, pests can negatively affect the environment and human health.

Who Is Responsible for Farm-Level Crop Biosecurity?

All owners and managers have the ultimate responsibility to protect the health of the crops under their care, and therefore should consider developing a written farm-level biosecurity plan for their operation. This can be accomplished by working in close cooperation with crop specialists, consultants, and local universities, as well as with provincial and federal departments of agriculture. Quick and simple measures built into your everyday management practices will go a long way toward protecting your farm and your future from the costly consequences of pests.

Biosecurity may be considered as a whole-farm approach to good crop management. The cooperation of visitors and agri-service personnel is an important part of the plan, but, ultimately, the owner or manager must be willing to do what is necessary to ensure that family members, employees, and visitors follow protocols.

Why Are Farm-Level Crop Biosecurity Planning and Implementation Important?

Implementing biosecurity practices to keep crops healthy has been a long-standing and successful practice on many Canadian farms. Today's more intensive farm operations may be more susceptible to economically damaging crop pests, and thus will often require stricter biosecurity protocols. Agricultural best management practices – including crop rotation, along with the use of resistant varieties and pesticides – have traditionally played a major role in eliminating and controlling crop pests. Now, however, it is widely accepted that, in isolation, these cannot prevent losses caused by all pests. Modern farming demands a more integrated pest-management approach.

Protecting your farm and crops is about understanding the risks to your operation and the ways in which your crops may become exposed to crop pests, and taking steps to minimize those risks. The steps required to put sound biosecurity practices in place often do not require major capital investment and can be implemented through management and planning changes. A well-designed and implemented crop biosecurity program maximizes profits by maintaining the resistance of various varieties of crops to pests, by minimizing the development of pest populations that are resistant to control measures, and by avoiding the introduction and establishment of new pests on the farm.

Biosecurity on Canada's farms is not new. There is, however, a move toward applying biosecurity practices in a more systematic way; that is, by implementing across numerous commodities that reach from the farm to the national level.

Pest and Crop Production

A wide variety of organisms can be injurious to plants or plant products, namely, viruses, bacteria, fungi, weeds, nematodes, and phytoplasma. Depending on their biological nature, introduction of these pests onto a farm occurs through a wide range of pathways. Knowing the pests of concern for your farm and identifying the pathways by which they are introduced and spread are key elements of a biosecurity plan. Pathways of introduction include the following:

The capacity of a crop industry sector to withstand an outbreak rests not only on the collective efforts of the sector, but also on individual biosecurity plans and their effective implementation.

B) A Generic Guide

The purpose of this guide is to identify the key elements, considerations, and critical points of biosecurity intervention that apply to producers and handlers of agricultural crops. It is designed to assist government, national associations, and producers in developing and implementing biosecurity programs. These preventive guidelines are not all-inclusive, but are generally accepted as beneficial management practices for most agricultural crops. Adopting these practices does not guarantee protection from all potential pests, but an effective plan will help protect your investment in your farm.

This guide is intended to encourage producers to implement the use of sound crop production practices that protect crop health and maximize profits. Production operations differ significantly, and sector needs vary geographically. Biosecurity considerations may be regulated federally, provincially, regionally, or municipally. One biosecurity plan will not fit the needs of every farm operation, and thus biosecurity plans should be developed to meet the specific needs of each farm. Each operation should incorporate these practices into daily routines that are appropriate for specific high-risk pests. Producers should review their production practices in relation to pest prevention on a frequent basis and ensure their strategies are carried out. An effective biosecurity plan is one that is flexible and open to new knowledge and technology as it becomes available.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has developed a similar approach to protecting Canada's animal resource base. The animal guide has been designed in parallel with the plant resource guide, but with a focus on biosecurity measures for animals. The National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide – Proactive Management of Animal Resources can be accessed on CFIA website.

C) Developing Your Farm Biosecurity Plan

Developing a biosecurity plan should be a team effort between the owner or producer and a veterinarian, with input from other sources. Establishing a practical farm biosecurity plan involves a rational risk assessment and careful planning to manage the targeted risks.

The following steps are typically involved in developing a farm-level biosecurity plan:

At a minimum, a biosecurity plan should focus on biosecurity interventions that minimize the following:

D) Definitions

Biosecurity zone: an area with defined boundaries where biosecurity measures are to be implemented to control access, exit, and movement to prevent the introduction and spread of pests (e.g. a field, greenhouse, or storage area).

Crop: throughout this document, "crop" is used in a widely inclusive sense to include plants, plant products, and other products that may be generated by a grower, producer, or operator for profit, including annual and perennial crops, fruit, vegetables, and horticultural plants, specifically, trees and mushrooms.

Employee: a person paid or otherwise expected to work on the farm for the producer.

Farm: a tract of land held for the purposes of cultivation, crop production, and/or the rearing of certain animals. Throughout this document, "farm" is used to denote a physical location that generates crops, plant products, and other products, and it includes nurseries, greenhouses, and plant propagators.

Pest: according to the Plant Protection Act, any thing that is injurious or potentially injurious, whether directly or indirectly, to plants, or to products or by-products of plants, and including any plant prescribed as a pest.

Producer: one who owns, leases, or rents land for cultivation, crop production, and/or the rearing of certain animals.

Production area: a field, greenhouse, or other area designated for cultivation or crop production or the rearing of certain animals.

Property: the land on which the production area(s) are located, including residential buildings and all farm buildings and structures.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): a set of written instructions that document a routine or repetitive activity followed on a farm.

Visitors: any non-farm personnel who arrive at the farm (e.g. salesmen, inspectors, delivery people, contractors, friends, and relatives of farm personnel).

E) Elements of a Farm-Level Biosecurity Plan

When developing a farm-level biosecurity plan, consider these three areas:

The producer is encouraged to design measures that are practical, outcome-based, and flexible. The order or organization of the concepts is not as important as the consideration of all concepts. As a biosecurity plan is developed, certain limitations (e.g. geographic, economic) may prevent implementing ideal practices. In these circumstances, increased emphasis and rigour in other elements may be indicated.

1. Farm Location and Layout

While greater emphasis may be placed on operational routines and plant health management practices in applying biosecurity principles, some minor upgrades to farm facilities can significantly improve farm biosecurity. At the very least, it is important to identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing farm facilities, so these may be factored into operational routines and biosecurity strategies.

1.1 Geography

The natural environment surrounding your farm is an important element in identifying the source and nature of potential pests in your area. Understanding the layout of your operation and neighbouring farms is vital to reducing the risk of pest introduction and spread.

Biosecurity considerations:

1.2 Layout

An illustration of the layout of your operation 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.

Biosecurity considerations:

1.3 Traffic Flow

Vehicles and the surfaces on which they travel can be vectors for the introduction and spread of pests. Thus, it is important to control and, if necessary, restrict the movement of vehicles on your premises.

Biosecurity considerations:

1.4 Landscape

Natural features including vegetation, waterways, and topography can benefit a biosecurity plan by providing natural barriers and drainage. These features on your property provide an economical and practical way to assist in implementing biosecurity measures.

Biosecurity considerations:

2. Operational Routines

This area focuses on day-to-day farm activities which can optimize the overall biosecurity status of the existing farm facilities and which may help to compensate for some infrastructure that does not exist. It focuses on producer and manager organization, as well as observational skills, sound judgement, and the need for knowledgeable and trained employees who understand why biosecurity guidelines exist and are competent in implementing the farm-level plan. Conscious day-to-day activities, regular maintenance practices, and clear understanding of biosecurity principles will help ensure that a biosecurity plan is successful in controlling the introduction, spread, and movement of crop pests, such as weeds, insects, and pathogens.

2.1 Biosecurity Zones

Biosecurity zones are areas where biosecurity measures are implemented to control access, exit, and movement. To be effective, these zones must be visible and controlled, and their importance must be understood.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.2 Movement of Employees and Visitors

People moving between different farms or between different biosecurity zones within a farm can spread pests on boots, clothing, and equipment. The most obvious risks are pests carried in soil and plant debris. However, one can develop and implement measures to reduce these risks through protocols and strictly controlled access to biosecurity zones.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.3 Movement of Vehicles and Equipment

Vehicles and equipment entering and moving within your farm pose a serious biosecurity threat; they can carry pests, soil, and crop debris. The risk is increased with shared, contracted, and second-hand vehicles and equipment, due to their use on other farms with unknown biosecurity status. Care must also be taken with non-agricultural vehicles and equipment that must travel within your farm (e.g. earth-moving equipment, gas exploration equipment, utility service vehicles). A good biosecurity plan considers incorporating protocols and controls to mitigate these risks.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.4 Construction and Maintenance of Facilities and Property

A well-constructed and maintained operation strengthens a biosecurity plan by aiding cleaning and disinfection processes and by reducing the risks associated with visitors, service personnel, and pests.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.5 Irrigation Water

Water used for irrigation can carry plant pathogens, especially when water is taken from ponds, streams, or other surface water sources. Managing water quality is important for the maintenance of healthy crops.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.6 Compost, Manure and Soil

Compost, manure, and soil can carry different crop pests. Composting to an appropriate temperature and length of time can destroy disease-causing agents and weed seeds.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.7 Biological Vectors of Pests

Animals, insects, and birds create a unique set of risk situations. Animals can spread pests via feet, feces, and fur. Some insects can also serve as vectors of disease-causing agents, such as viruses and bacteria. Weeds can also be alternate hosts for pests that infect your crops.

Biosecurity considerations:

2.8 Planning and Training

Knowledge makes it possible to effectively control operations on a farm. It also allows for future planning as situations or production processes change. Developing and implementing a training program provides employees with a sense of involvement and pride, and helps to avoid complacency.

Biosecurity considerations:

3. Crop Health Management

This area involves decision making that directly pertains to crop production and cultivation practices, as well as to the biology of weeds and disease-causing agents that can pose biosecurity threats. It is at this stage that any biosecurity breaches will be revealed, and thus careful observation and background knowledge are critical.

3.1 Good Management Practices

Developing, implementing, and maintaining good management practices allows a biosecurity plan to operate effectively and maintains or improves crop productivity.

Biosecurity considerations for the producer or owner:

3.2 Pest Surveillance

Early detection of pests is vital to minimizing their impact and containment in an isolated production area.

Biosecurity considerations:

3.3 Pest Response Plans

The ability to react quickly and effectively to a pest situation is vital to minimizing its effect on an operation and preventing its spread.

Biosecurity considerations:

Appendix A
Farm-Level Biosecurity Checklist for Crops

Section 1 Farm Location and Layout

1.1 Geography

A layout map, indicating buildings, production areas, borders, fencing, critical control points, is available.
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1.2 Layout

There is a dedicated cleaning facility appropriately located with high-pressure water supply and waste water collection capacity.
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There is the capacity to clean soil and plant debris off machinery and equipment when moving between different biosecurity zones on the farm.
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There are holding and disposal areas for crop waste or residues, compost, and manure (e.g. deep burial site).
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A designated receiving area(s) for inspection of farm inputs and machinery is available and appropriately located.
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A visible demarcated boundary surrounds property and production areas.
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1.3 Traffic Flow

Routes are defined and provide direction.
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Appropriate signs exist.
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There is a designated parking area.
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1.4 Landscape

Natural barriers are present around production areas (e.g. windbreak).
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Drainage is effective.
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Section 2 Operational Routines

2.1 Biosecurity Zones

Various biosecurity zones are classified based on use, status, access, and the level of protection needed.
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Appropriate signs at main entrances and field approaches indicate biosecurity zone and contact numbers.
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Entry and exit points into and between biosecurity zones are controlled.
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2.2 Movement of Employees and Visitors

Visitors are controlled and have limited access to production areas.
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A visitor log is maintained.
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A procedure is in place to ensure that visitor and employee footwear, equipment, and clothing are free from soil and crop material upon entry to the farm.
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Cleaning facilities are provided for people entering or exiting production areas.
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Disposable or dedicated outerwear and footwear are provided, if needed.
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Workflow procedures from clean to dirty areas are established and followed.
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2.3 Movement of Vehicles and Equipment

Off-farm vehicles are parked in a designated area.
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Visitors are transported about the premises, using a farm vehicle.
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Vehicles and equipment entering or exiting biosecurity zones are inspected and cleaned in a designated cleaning area.
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Off-farm vehicles and equipment are cleaned prior to entry into the farm.
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Field operations follow a pattern of moving from clean production areas to those more likely to be infested.
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Care is taken to minimize movement of vehicles or machinery over wet soil.
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Vehicle movement log is maintained.
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2.4 Construction and Maintenance of Facilities and Property

A cleaning and regular maintenance program is in place.
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Construction materials are easily cleaned and disinfected.
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Equipment, buildings, boundaries, signs, and driveways are kept in good repair.
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Good hygiene is maintained in and around storage area.
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2.5 Irrigation Water

Water is tested regularly.
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Water is filtered and treated, if required.
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2.6 Compost, Manure and Soil

A high-heat compost procedure is in place.
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Infested crop residues are not composted but are properly disposed of.
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Movement of soil between fields and biosecurity zones is minimized.
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2.7 Biological Vectors of Pests

Control measures are in place for animals and wildlife.
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Weeds are controlled within and around production area.
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Attractive environments are eliminated or reduced.
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2.8 Planning and Training

A written, practical biosecurity plan has been developed, in consultation with a professional.
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The plan is shared with family, visitors, and employees.
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Biosecurity training is conducted.
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Up-to-date information and learning resources are gathered and made available.
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All biosecurity procedures, events, and actions are well documented.
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Section 3 Crop Health Management

3.1 Good Management Practices

Staff are trained in the best crop production practices.
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Staff are trained to identify pests, symptoms, and other crop problems.
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Best management practices are in place.
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The source of planting material (seed, transplants, cuttings, etc.) is certified as pest-free.
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A producer inquiry on biosecurity status of a land occurs prior to renting.
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The owner ensures that biosecurity protocols are followed on rented land.
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Cropping records are maintained for each field.
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3.2 Pest Surveillance

Scouting, monitoring, and surveillance activities are routinely implemented.
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Farm inputs are inspected prior to being moved into the production area.
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Pest surveillance activities are recorded, even when nothing is found.
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3.3 Pest Response Plans

Suspected problems are investigated to identify pests and to implement appropriate management practices.
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A procedure for reporting pests and other biosecurity risk(s) to appropriate plant health authorities and specialists is developed.
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A disposal system is developed and implemented for weed seed, crop waste, and potentially infected plant material.
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Discovery of a new biosecurity threat on the farm triggers emergency procedures.
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(Add more as required.)

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