Risky Business

Plant sourcing has its risks and now more than ever landscape professionals need to be aware of the risks of plant sourcing or they may find themselves at risk.

Several state governments have changed their legislation in respect to biosecurity and introduced the concept of a general biosecurity duty. For example, the NSW Biosecurity act (2015) requires that: Any person who deals with biosecurity matter or a carrier and who knows, or ought reasonably to know, the biosecurity risk posed or likely to be posed by the biosecurity matter, carrier or dealing has a biosecurity duty to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the biosecurity risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised.

Under this requirement it would be reasonable to expect that a landscaper is aware of the biosecurity risk posed by their work and that they would take steps to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity impacts from that work.

This would include sourcing disease-free plant stock, employing basic hygiene practices when moving from sites and notifying authorities in the advent of finding unusual pest or disease symptoms. Not doing these things could lead to potential prosecution under the biosecurity act.

However, biosecurity is not the only risk around plant sourcing, more and more social licence issues are gaining traction. Because of this, responsible sourcing of product is becoming expected as the public becomes more concerned over issues such as the responsible and sustainable use of inputs e.g. water and pesticides, the ethical treatment of workers, and impacts to the environment and society.

How can you manage these risks?

You can’t see what happens behind the scenes at a production nursery, so judging which production nursery is going to deliver you the best product without putting you at risk is difficult. There is however a way for you to limit that risk and that’s by sourcing plants from a production nursery accredited through the Nursery Production Farm Management System or Nursery Production FMS.

In operation for over a quarter of a century, the Nursery Production FMS accredits production nurseries, as well as growing media manufacturers and greenlife markets, against key industry standards.

The Nursery Production FMS is made up of three programs:

The core program is the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia (NIASA) and this covers industry best practice in crop hygiene, crop management, general site management and water management. NIASA provides a level of assurance around consistent product quality and performance as well as a signalling that a business is safe, sustainable and professional. NIASA is also endorsed through the Smart Approved Water Mark scheme.

EcoHort is an environmental management system designed to further assist NIASA businesses in improving their business and environmental sustainability through a risk assessment and continuous improvement process. The core issues addressed include water, pesticides, waste, land and soil use, energy, pollution and biodiversity.

BioSecure HACCP is the industry’s dedicated on-farm biosecurity management program designed to assist NIASA accredited businesses to systematically assess and manage their current and future pest, disease, and weed risks. Based on HACCP principles (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) this program anticipates and prevents biosecurity issues before and during production rather than only relying on an endpoint inspection. BioSecure HACCP has received numerous endorsements from the government including being approved as the first industry owned and operated biosecurity program to meet interstate market access requirements in a co-regulatory relationship with state and territory governments.

Each of the programs are independently audited by professionals, which means that you can be assured that the NIASA accredited businesses are meeting the best standards in the industry. 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 and helps you to avoid the risks of plant sourcing.

For more information on the Nursery Production, FMS and a list of accredited businesses visit the website at: www.nurseryproductionfms.com.au

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