Sep 9, 2022
New Tool Aims to Mitigate Risk and Improve Plant Health

The Horticultural Research Institute, in partnership with the National Plant Board and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), has launched an important new tool for nursery and greenhouse growers seeking to improve plant production processes by identifying hazards (operational areas where plants could be contaminated or introduced to plant pests). Understanding these critical control points help growers implement measures to reduce or eliminate risks, paving the way for healthier plants and healthier businesses.

Healthy plants are integral to human health and well-being, and to the environment that sustains us. To ensure that plants moving in the horticultural trade are free of regulated invasive pests that threaten agriculture and the environment, greenhouses and nurseries are regulated by state and federal authorities. A multi-year effort to modernize plant certification has resulted in a new program known as Systems Approach to Nursery Certification (SANC).

The SANC program is a voluntary, grower-driven, officially state-verified plant health certification partnership that applies quality management principles to the entire plant production process. SANC was developed as a holistic approach to growing and certifying plants that satisfies applicable state and federal plant health regulations.

SANC applies best practices at key points in the plant production process to address identified risks. These practices are integrated into a growing operation system, hence the name: systems approach. The place to start with system design is a greenhouse or nursery-specific risk assessment that examines what can go wrong where in the plant production process.

“To make the process easier, the Horticultural Research Institute teamed up with the National Plant Board and USDA to develop a web-based risk assessment tool,” states Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort executive vice president of advocacy, research, and industry relations.

Although the tool was designed to help growers more easily perform the risk assessment required to participate in SANC, the tool is available, at no cost, to any nursery or greenhouse seeking to improve their processes, whether they choose to pursue SANC certification or not.

Growers may request free user access to begin a facility risk assessment by visiting the Risk Assessment website.

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