One of the UK’s leading wholesale plant nurseries is featured as a case study in DEFRA’s recently published five-year plant biosecurity strategy – it also quotes the company’s production manager, Kyle Ross.
The document covers areas of potential regulation and opportunity and explains how increasing domestic production will make an important contribution to reducing the risk of importing harmful pests and pathogens.
Andy Johnson, managing director of Wyevale Nurseries, says: “We’re delighted to be included as a case study in this strategy document. The case study relates to how we were an early supporter and adopter of the Plant Healthy Certification Scheme, which we’re very proud of.
“We joined in April 2020, at the very start of the initiative, to help champion UK biosecurity and plant health, which is something we’ve always been very passionate about here at Wyevale Nurseries.
“The Plant Healthy Scheme is run by the Plant Health Alliance. It aims to drive up plant health management standards in the UK by making it easy to identify businesses or organisations that trade and grow plants to high plant health and biosecurity standards.
“By sourcing plants from Plant Healthy nurseries, the risk of introducing or spreading destructive plant pests and pathogens is reduced, safeguarding supply chains and everyone in the horticultural industry and right down to the consumer, who enjoys their garden at home.”
Spearheading Wyevale Nurseries’ involvement with the Plant Healthy scheme is the company’s production manager, Kyle Ross.
He is quoted in the strategy document talking about his experience of the scheme and says: “Our nursery already had pre-existing protocols in place but by being Plant Healthy Certified it gives us the opportunity to really shout about the good work we do.
“Having a scheme like this in place that not just plant and crop producers, but anyone who works in plants, such as landscapers, garden centres, retailers, can sign up to is a huge benefit to UK horticulture, and really shows a united front against pest and disease threats.
“The process of becoming certified was thorough and efficient, with clear guidance on what the scheme criteria means and how to achieve compliance. The team behind Plant Healthy has been nothing but helpful, the resources available on the website are clear and easy to use, and there are some fantastic training programmes available too.
“Becoming certified gives our customers confidence that plants purchased from our business are 100% compliant with all biosecurity and plant health regulations. And that we have taken proactive steps to secure our business, including rigorous plant inspections, training of staff in pest and disease management and introduction of dedicated quarantine zones should they be required.”
Despite having similar growing conditions to countries such as the Netherlands, which allows domestic production of a wide range of plants and planting material, the UK remains a net importer of plants, the strategy says.
In 2019, it states, the UK imported an estimated £1.2 billion worth of ornamental horticultural goods. It’s important for biosecurity that more plants are British sown and grown going forward.
The document goes on to say: “Government will continue to invest in our nurseries as they play a vital role in growing the high-quality plants that we need now more than ever before.
“Through the Nature for Climate Fund, Defra is supporting the tree production sector to increase the quantity, quality and diversity of our domestic seed and sapling supply, to avoid reliance on imports and enhance biosecurity.
“This includes the launch of a new Tree Production Innovation Fund which has supported a wide range of projects designed to overcome barriers to forest nursery production, through increased germination and establishment rates, automation of labour-intensive processes, and development of sustainable weed control solutions.
“The new Seed Sourcing Grant supports UK seed production and further funding has been made available in capital grants to enhance biosecurity and expand domestic nursery capacity at pace.”
DEFRA’s comprehensive, five-year plant biosecurity strategy, which has just been published and runs from 2023 until 2028 is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/plant-biosecurity-strategy-for-great-britain-2023-to-2028