In the light of climate change and ongoing drought occurrences, attitudes towards water have shifted. Australians now expect that water is used responsibly, sustainably, and without impact on other water users through pollution or mismanagement.
Likewise, there is an expectation that businesses undertake responsible sourcing, and this includes considering the use of water in the production of a product. Companies that don’t undertake the due diligence of responsible sourcing are at risk of having their social licence and reputation damaged.
Water is, however, an essential component in growing any plant, so how do you know if the plants you are purchasing have been produced using responsible water management?
Part of the Nursery Production Farm Management System is the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme, Australia, or NIASA. Businesses that are accredited through NIASA are independently audited to ensure that their plants are grown using industry best practice for a range of areas including water use, recycling, and management.
What Is Assessed?
As water and irrigation are essential elements in any production nursery, NIASA accredited businesses are encouraged to operate efficient irrigation systems. This includes a range of parameters including the uniformity of application, mean application rates, the scheduling of irrigation and the design of the irrigation system, such as how suitable it is to the type of plant stock being grown.
Using an efficient irrigation system not only helps to conserve water it also ensures that plants are grown to consistent quality, limits negative environmental impacts caused by the leaching of nutrients and helps to save power through the more efficient employment of pumps.
NIASA accredited growers are also encouraged to capture, store and reuse water on their property including irrigation runoff. Water captured in this manner is treated to ensure the quality of the water is suitable for plant production and to prevent the incidence of water-borne plant pathogens.
Capturing and treating water in this manner helps to conserve water and limits the demand for production nurseries on irrigation water sources. It also limits potential pollution impacts upon external water sources including groundwater, creeks, and rivers.
Moving beyond NIASA is the EcoHort program, which is a dedicated environmental management system designed to further assist NIASA businesses to improve their business and environmental sustainability through a risk assessment and continuous improvement process. The core issues addressed include not only water but also pesticides, waste, land and soil use, energy, pollution, and biodiversity.
In recognition of the real water savings gained through their use, both the NIASA and EcoHort programs have been independently recognized by the Smart Approved WaterMark.
What Does This Mean For Me?
Purchasing plants grown by a NIASA accredited production nursery means that you can proudly assure your clients that apart from securing them high-quality plants, you are responsible sourcing your plant stock and doing your part to help conserve one of our most precious resources, water. Also, look for the EcoHort certified production nursery when seeking higher-level environmental credentials in your plant supplier.
For more information on the Nursery Production FMS and a list of accredited businesses, visit the website at www.nurseryproductionfms.com.au