7 tips to help your nursery produce high health crops
By Gabrielle Stannus
(Image: United Nations)
Today is the inaugural International Day of Plant Health (12 May 2022), an annual event launched by the United Nations in a bid to raise global awareness about the importance of protecting plant health around the globe. Greenlife Industry Australia encourages all members of the industry to reflect on the significance of this event and provides the following tips to help ensure your business remains pest and disease free.
Following on from the International Year of Plant Health 2020, the United Nations (UN) has designated 12 May the International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development.
Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) is working hard to achieve the IDPH key objectives by strengthening monitoring and early warning systems to protect plants and plant health, and to enable sustainable pest and pesticide management to keep plants healthy while protecting the environment.
Owing to Australia's natural geographic defences, the greenlife industry has remained relatively free from exotic pests. However, incursions are not uncommon, and it is critical for the industry to be aware and prepared for plant health and biosecurity risks. Comprehensive plant health and biosecurity practices are critical to protecting your business, preventing huge production losses, and ensuring the security of intra and interstate greenlife trade.
To reduce the spread of pests and disease, and thereby support high health plant production, GIA has a range of resources and programs available to industry either directly through our channels or easily accessible through our partners’.
1. Visit the APPS website for pest & disease management resources
To ensure that your plants are grown to the highest biosecurity and environmental standards, visit the Australian Plant Production Standard (APPS) website to access best practice guidelines as well as technical information sheets, pest management plans, research reports and an e-learning portal.
The APPS programs include the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme, Australia (NIASA) Best Management Practice, the environmental and natural resource management system EcoHort, and the on-farm plant protection and biosecurity program BioSecure HACCP. These programs have been developed for production nurseries, growing media suppliers and greenlife markets, although all businesses are able to access and use these guidelines.
2. Download and use the BioSecure HACCP best management practice manuals in your production nursery
Protect your cropping environment from endemic and emergency plant pests before they become a problem. Download and use the BioSecure HACCP best management practice manuals to improve your crop monitoring, dispatch, import inspections, and site surveillance.
BioSecure HACCP provides a system to manage both the endemic common pests production nurseries confront daily as well as confirming freedom of quarantine pests or the early detection of exotic plant pests. BioSecure HACCP on-farm system content includes:
Identification of pathways for plant pests
High health procedures to reduce risks
Electronic document management
Control points within the cropping system
Recording process for managing risks
Traceability processes in place
3. Identify pests in your production nursery using the online Pest Identification Tool
Better identification of pests, diseases and weeds enables more appropriate and sustainable management of these threats to our plant production and biosecurity.
The Pest Identification Tool was developed by Nursery & Garden Industry Queensland (NGIQ), with support and assistance from Greenlife Industry Australia, Hort Innovation, and Plant Health Australia.
This free database includes photos of pests, diseases and weeds that may impact production nursery and horticultural crops. The tool is compatible with any web-enabled phone, tablet or computer. Registration is simple and free.
The tool is provided to assist the horticultural industries in identifying and treating pest insects, diseases, disorders and weeds. It also includes information on beneficial insects as biocontrol treatments.
New users will be required to register their login details and activate an account. Existing and past users can use their current login details.
4. Call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline if you spot something unusual
Early detection of an exotic pest or disease is critical to mounting a successful response for eradication. Industry workers are the first line of defence and are often the first to identify something unusual.
Signs of infestation/infection can look like other pests and diseases that are known in Australia. All suspect pests/symptoms must be reported.
NB. You should not collect a sample or move the suspect plant.
Most states have an app or mechanism for submitting a photo for preliminary diagnosis. The photo should be a clear image of the suspect plant, the pests/disease symptoms and the plant’s label, if you still have it.
If you have spotted something unusual or suspect a pest that represents a risk to your business and the greenlife industry, please call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
This will put you in touch with the department of primary industries or agriculture in your state or territory.
5. Seek FREE diagnostic advice to better identify pests and pathogens
Accurate plant pest and disease diagnosis assists growers to better manage pests and diseases and improve their crop productivity and quality, thus minimising losses and total discarded plants, whilst preventing future outbreaks.
Led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), the levy funded ‘Resourcing, supporting, and assessing biosecurity in nursery production’ (NY20000) project aims to provide greater support to production nurseries to help reduce the risk of infestations and crop losses associated with pest and diseases.
Through the project, all commercial production nurseries receive six free diagnostic samples each year of the project (2021-2025) via QDAF’s diagnostic service, Grow Help Australia.
Grow Help Australia provides tests for:
The presence of plant pests and pathogens
Seeds (limited to fungal pathogens only)
Growing media, soil and water for limited pathogen groups (mainly Phytophthora)
Plant pathogens to support accreditation schemes and export requirements
At the end of the testing process, you will receive:
A final written report that includes details of the specific tests completed and the results
Interpretation of results
Practical advice (wherever possible) on how to remedy any issues identified through the testing undertaken.
NB. All information is confidential and is not provided to third parties.
6. Learn about high health crops at this FREE webinar
In addition to developing and updating grower resources including pest management plans, fact sheets and contingency plans, the NY20000 program also supports the delivery of biosecurity-focused webinars and workshops across the country, including the following event:
Webinar: Production of High Health Crops, Free of Pests and Disease
Date: Thursday, 19 May 2022
Time: 10am -11am AEST (Brisbane time)
Learn about the many practices that assist in the production of healthy crops, including how to manage propagative material and early detection of plant health problems with Dr Andrew Manners and John Duff (Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries). For more information and to register, please click here.
7. Seek the support of your local Plant Protection Officer
A network of Plant Protection Officers (PPOs) provides extension services to industry across Australia, funded through the levy-funded ‘National Biosecurity and Sustainable Plant Production Program’ (NY20001). Using the APPS program and technical manuals, these PPOs can guide the adoption and implementation of sustainable plant production systems at your nursery through on-site extension visits, workshops, and the delivery of Micro Technical Skills Courses to you and your employees.