Australian Plant Production Standard (APPS)

Professional plant production nurseries supplying into the greenlife landscape market, be that commercial or urban, operate in a highly competitive supply chain with a variety of ‘businesses’ providing semi-advanced and advanced bare rooted and containerised plants.

Many of these plants are grown in a variety of conditions across diverse climates and many are not grown to any specified standard. Developers, landscapers, state and local governments have a rich pool from which to source plant stock, however a question not asked often enough is, what ‘MARK’ is used across the supply chain to identify the least risk businesses and the professional production nursery?

There are a number of potential identifiers to a business’s potential risk or reduced risk profile including membership of various bodies, local industry knowledge and historical relationships. However, are anyof these independently audited across a complete set of criteria? When auditing does occur it ensures the production nursery is maintaining a standard that is expected and, importantly, will be likely to provide the product being purchased to a quality level specified or expected.

The Australian plant nursery sector, represented by Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA), has for the past 25 years provided production nurseries with access to the various business improvement and risk management programs (for example, NIASA BMP, EcoHort and BioSecure HACCP) underpinning their business systems.

These programs have evolved significantly over recent years to the point where state biosecurity agencies recognise the legal market access of consignments certified under BioSecure HACCP. Furthermore, industry certification programs in bananas, avocado and strawberry sectors provide equivalence to NIASA accreditation and businesses have avoided stringent water access compliance requirements due to local governments recognising EcoHort certification – an equivalence.

The Australian Plant Production Standard (APPS) is the overarching framework binding the Australian nursery industry’s Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme, Australia (NIASA) Best Management Practice (BMP); EcoHort – Environmental and Natural Resource Management; and BioSecure HACCP – Plant Protection/Biosecurity programs into a cohesive interlocked support system for production nurseries, greenlife markets and growing media manufacturers.

Operating under national guidelines, the APPS and the suite of three programs are designed to facilitate the adoption by production nurseries of R&D outputs, environmentally sustainable practices, integrated cropping systems,  plant protection and biosecurity systems and best management practice. The APPS programs reduce business risk, improve product quality and meet both legal and social obligations in a world where traceability and  responsibility is becoming a critical business element.

Assurance programs are the only means of assessing quality standards that are designed to address customer satisfaction and provide evidence of activities. The APPS programs are, annually, independently audited by qualified auditors (SAI Global Lead Auditor Qualification) against comprehensive checklists with non-conformances identified and rectified as required, all traceable and verifiable when meeting due diligence criteria. These audits help the production nurseries stay on track and avoid the major pitfalls that can afflict plant production businesses such as poor growing environments unsuitable drainage and root pathogen infestation, propagation hygiene, growing bed failures, product fit for purpose, OH&S obligations, etc., impacting on their ability to supply the market when required.

The cost of the loss of supply continuity, or not having the nursery stock available by the delivery date, is a significant one with many production nurseries losing key customers due to failings in meeting supply commitments. The flow-on effect into the market place can be significant due to contractors/developers having contractual obligations linked to project delivery dates, integrating development stages towards project progress and the future obligations addressing landscaping maintenance through to hand-over.

The NIASA BMP Program has introduced a sub-program Landscape Tree Stock Specification for production nurseries to attach to their current NIASA BMP Accreditation, which is intended to strengthen their ability to meet product delivery commitments. This is achieved by providing a landscape tree that is true to type, healthy, fit for purpose and of a consistent standard that meets the client’s expectations.

This identification mark acknowledges a production nursery’s compliance to the specification in order to meet an expected quality and business ethical standard.

Purchasing your plant stock from a NIASA accredited production nursery is a clear sign that you are managing your biosecurity risk and responsibly sourcing your plant stock.

For more information on the Australian Plant Production Standard and a list of accredited businesses, visit the website at  or email

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