Here at Hortus Loci we take Plant Health extremely seriously. Being primarily growers we already have many of the protocols recommended by the various Government and Trade Association bodies in place and keep abreast of all current and potential legislation and best practices.
Our main business is growing plants. We also bring in larger stock from abroad if and when required.
We have signed up to the voluntary HTA Statement that;
As a minimum measure.
“We have taken the decision NOT to knowingly purchase any host plants originating from regions where the disease Xylella is known to exist. The decision has been taken after detailed consideration as to the potential catastrophic impact the introduction of the disease could have to the UK environment, coupled with the ever increasing number of host plant genera of this disease. This is in line with DEFRA’s good practice recommendations.”
Plant Health Responsibility
Is overseen by Mark Straver and Robin Wallis who are the founders and Directors of Hortus Loci. Both Mark and Robin sit on the UK Biosecurity Alliance. Robin also sits on the RHS Herbaceous Committee. Between them they have over 70 years of Horticultural experience covering Hardy Nursery Stock, Garden & Plant Centres and Landscaping.
Ongoing training is given to all relevant staff on Plant Health. Overseeing the health of our own growing crops is an important part of our nursery staff’s job description. We especially focus training on those involved with checking plants on arrival from outside sources.
Plant Health Policy.
It is our mission to be at the forefront of Plant Health Security in the UK rather than toeing the line. All of our staff are regularly updated from various bodies especially documents and links from DEFRA, APHA and the HTA.
We are actively involved at the highest levels and are meeting all of the policy setters at our site to better understand what the future as well as current legislation will entail.
Risk Assessment & Specific Plant Health Plans
We have plans in place for all current and potential notifiable pests and diseases and review these on a regular basis.
Supply Chain Management.
We place huge importance on our supply chain management. We have always visited all of our suppliers often multiple times throughout the year and will continue to do so. We also send them a Contract to Supply which they have to sign and return to us or we will not buy from them. This is the basis for an accreditation scheme for all our suppliers in which they will have to show best practice and traceability of their plants. Not only Species on the Xylella list as there are many other pests and diseases that require monitoring.
We issue Plant Passports with all of our plants (rather than the legal minimum) so we have full traceability from seed or source to sale. We will soon be introducing a new EPOS system that will more easily follow crops as batches with barcodes through from arrival until sold whether our own grown stock or goods bought in for immediate or near immediate resale. If required for export we will also apply for Phytosanitary Certificates and Export permits.
All imports of Castania, Fraxinus, Pinus, Platanus, Quercus and Ulmus are notified via the eDomero portal of DEFRA. These plants are checked by our DEFRA Plant Health Officer on arrival. These notifications happen nearly every week so rather than having the legal minimum two inspections per year we have somewhere between twenty and thirty checks a year.
PLANT HEALTH CONTROLS
All incoming plant material including packaging (especially any made of wood) is checked on arrival. Any suspicious goods to be reported samples bagged. Stock destroyed immediately if we are in any doubt that holding it until inspection would be risky.
All stock to be traceable back to initial supply, also traced forward to end user. Plant labels with barcodes for each batch on arrival and when moved or potted up.
All stock to be regularly checked on site. Included in the monitoring will be spray records for any chemicals used. Stock movements and potting records. All tracked by our Growmaster stock control programme.
Pest and Disease Outbreaks.
Rapid identification of pests and diseases is our first defence against pests and diseases. Samples taken for identification by experts if we deem necessary.
Plant Health Inspector to be notified immediately and samples kept if stock has been destroyed as a precaution.
If classed as a manageable pest or disease with treatment stock to be isolated in a quarantine area and treated with recommended chemicals.
No movement of stock from quarantine until passed to do so by Plant Health Inspector.
All goods to be carefully checked before delivery. All goods to go out with the required paperwork showing our Plant Passport number. Phytosanitary Certificate and Export Permit if going abroad.
Most of our goods go on Danish Trolleys which are regularly steralised. Any wooden packaging will be ISPM compliant.
Complaints, Issues or Returns
We have an audited system for dealing and tracing any plant health problems which arise after delivery. If goods are deemed as possibly infected our Plant Health Inspector will be notified who will assess the plants in situ. If there is an issue with our plants then all others from the same batch will be recalled at our expense.
RECOGNITION AND TRAINING
We have competent staff throughout the company who can identify common pests and diseases. They are also aware how important it is to flag up anything suspicious that they are unsure about. We believe that a training course for Plant Health is in the pipeline and will send our staff on this course. We will also carry out in house training on an ongoing basis.
Legislation & Keeping Up To Date
All staff involved with plant health are kept up to date with new notifications from DEFRA, APHA, & the HTA via the relevant websites and direct notifications to their company email addresses.
Information shared between staff so all are aware of plant health issues.
SITE HEALTH HYGIENE
Hygiene rules and practices on site which all staff are aware of. Cleaning and disinfection of tools especially secateurs and shears. If necessary to include vehicles and disinfecting footwear.
NURSERY UPKEEP AND HOUSEKEEPING
Due to the vast range of plants grown it is difficult to set finite rules. We do however have high standards that we aim to keep to. Weeding, efficient watering, removal of green waste from site, steralisation of cleared crop areas, crop rotation are all built in to our nursery practices.
INFORMING PROFESSIONALS AND THE PUBLIC
We see this this as an imperative for the whole industry to get involved with.
We have both wholesale and Retail wings to our business so are ideally suited to make sure important messages are put out there. We already have a leaflet at our Plant Centre explaining in layman’s terms our policy on Xylella. This leaflet also includes a plea to the public not to bring plant material into the UK from abroad, also not to bring in diseased plants or pests but to photograph them and send these in. We have a very strong presence on Social Media so can also utilise this if necessary.
We now have full planning permission for the construction of our tree and large shrub sales area on our site. Bearing in mind potential legislation coming into force we are working closely with DEFRA, APHA, the HTA and the RHS. Growing for Shows is a big part of our business so we will be factoring in any rules and regulations from the RHS over and above the legislation from DEFRA. This may well involve construction of a Reception and Quarantine zone which depending on the consensus at the time may have to be off site. Trees and shrubs will be checked, treated if required, containerised and held for a growing season before sale.