PPBS Case Study - Ardmore Nurseries

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Ardmore Nurseries is a wholesale plant nursery near Clevedon, Auckland. It operates on over 14 hectares and employs 28 staff. It has over 1000 varieties of plants and trees including New Zealand natives and popular exotic garden plants. Customers are mainly landscapers (80%) and retailers. They can self-select plants by driving around the nursery. Ardmore also delivers plants nationwide.

Ardmore Nurseries systems manager Kara Beaumont said the nursery got involved in the PPBS pilot because the team wanted to be involved early, to understand what was involved in the scheme, and to offer feedback in the testing phase.

The Process

Kara said the nursery had already been involved with the NIASA (Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia) Farm Management System, the EcoSMART Environmental Management System and had worked with OSHBox on health and safety.

“This meant that we approached the biosecurity pilot scheme a bit differently as we are trying to integrate all these aspects into one system. This is making it a bit harder for us in the short term as there’s a lot of work to do, but in the long run it will be worth it.”

She said John Liddle of the PBBS was very accessible for advice and the auditor was very supportive and gave some practical suggestions.

There was substantial detail in the PBBS to work through and she said perhaps it could be less time consuming. For example, one audit process listed that 50 corrective actions were required but many were repeated as they appeared in more than one aspect of the business. “When we looked closely at the actions we realised there were actually less than 10 required, but it took time for us to determine that.”

Her aim is to provide a document that provides some permanent answers for the biosecurity audits.

Kara said she used the nursery template as a guide but changed it to suit her systems integration objective. She removed a lot of the detail and replaced it with a list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

The Core Standard was useful but did not include tools to guide a customised risk assessment because the Standard effectively did that risk assessment for nurseries.
“In the other systems – health & safety, environment etc – we had to do our own risk assessments, which we felt was a very useful process to go through. We have our own risk register.”

Changes made

Kara said 80% of changes made as a result of the PBBS were record keeping for example:

  • Crop monitoring – instead of just reporting by exception in the spray diary, now Ardmore records observations when there are no problems as well
  • Visitors’ sign-ins – visitors already reported to the office for safety and biosecurity sign in, but will also now be asked a simple biosecurity risk question. We have improved our signage (see below).
  • Ardmore developed a stamp for packing slips for incoming plants that states ‘visually checked and free of pests’ with a box for staff signature

Actions

  • More staff training and recording that training
  • More regular sterilising and washing of vehicles
  • Asking staff to leave their work boots at work
  • Greater effort to work more hygienically at all times
  • Washing and sterilising of reusable pots

Benefits

Kara said the benefits of the scheme were around social responsibility and risk management.“If we were disregard biosecurity then there could be a very detrimental effect on the environment, the economy and our reputation.” While there may be some financial benefits, there would also be additional costs. The scheme was about future proofing the industry and preventing, or at least better managing, an outbreak so was worth the time investment.

Suggestions for future of scheme

Kara suggested that several templates be provided to streamline processes e.g.

  • Staff induction
  • Contractor induction
  • Crop monitoring template
  • Signage templates
  • Docket stamp

Other suggestions:

  • A biosecurity questionnaire to allow nurseries to assess their starting point
  • A quick-start step-by-step guide with practical advice and tools to help people implement the more straightforward changes / easy wins first.
  • A risk table with consequence and likelihood rather than “jumping straight to the answer.”
  • A forum where people going through the process can ask questions and get advice from those who have been through the scheme
  • Down the line, a regional pest plant management scheme

Recommend to others?

Kara said she would absolutely recommend that other nurseries go through the scheme. Some changes were easy to make and could be implemented straight away. But people would have to be realistic about how long the whole process would take to complete and be prepared to put in the time.

“We’re are taking it step by step to ensure it aligns with our SOPs. We want to do it properly and get it right. It will take us up to another year to get it all signed off and we are prioritising it.”

Kara said nurseries that had staff who were not trained and/or had English as a second language would need more time for implementation.

“Plant producers should help one another on this because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t think the scheme will give accredited nurseries a competitive advantage, we should support one another in this  to strengthen our industry and to protect the broader environment and economy.”

 

22-Aug-2019

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