Our report from the recent annual Horticultural trade association Contact conference, with the theme ‘Surviving and Thriving’.
Penny Fryer (Operations Director) and Nerys Arch (Propagation Manager) attended the conference this month to keep up with changes and developments within the industry, regarding key topics like Brexit, water legislation, labour challenges and the need to inspire the next generation of horticulturalists. They also went to introduce a development of their own.
Professor Nicola Spence, Chief Plant Health Officer at DEFRA and Director Raoul Curtis-Machin of the HTA visited Boningale nursery last autumn and were delighted to see Nerys and Managing Director Tim Edwards present a pioneering new Plant Health Management system. Our plant health team have been working on a suitable program which we have started to implement in the day to day running of the nursery, which will now be rolled out to be piloted by other nurseries.
As a result Nerys was asked to present the system to the Conference, in the context of tightening border controls, plant health risks, and the need for everyone in the industry to take responsibility for control, detection and prevention of potentially high risk imported diseases.
Nerys, who has also successfully managed Boningale’s Envionmental Management system, gave an overview of her proposed system that would follow a format very familiar to companies already using standard Quality Control, Health and Safety and similar ISO certifications. The 8 clauses of the system build up to effectively manage P&D within a nursery and ensure businesses formally and publicly recognise their responsibilities and measure and manage risks.
The starting point is to look at everything we do and how it has an effect on plant health. All business activities will be analysed and risk assessed, and appropriate procedures put in place. All staff will have clearly written roles and responsibilities, to ensure the process can be easily monitored. This record will help companies deliver relevant training, and deliver best practice in production and trading.
The system will undoubtedly develop more over time, but this documented system will ensure that everything we need to do is legally up to date, communicated to all staff, and responsibly produces the best products for our customers.
The talk was very well received, and Boningale are very proud of all the hard work our Plant Health Management Team have put in to developing this process, which may turn out to have huge benefits for the whole industry.
Nerys’ comment on the conference:
“Although taking time out from the usual busy working day isn’t always easy, these types of events are always worth attending and it certainly always improves knowledge and inspires the attendee in some way or another. For me it’s the way to make horticulture sexy and interesting for the next generations of propagators and nursery staff to take it on!”
Another keynote speaker at the conference was Professor James Hitchmough, lead plant design and horticultural consultant on the QE Olympic Park. James is currently working with Boningale GreenSky on a PHD research project concerning advanced environmental planting, which we will develop in a future blog – watch this space!