Boningale has passed the Plant Healthy Audit, confirming that we have the systems and processes in place to minimise the risk of importing plants with pests and diseases.
DEFRA’s 2014 UK Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain recognised that our plants are under greater threat than ever from increased global trade, and set out goals to develop a risk based approach through industry collaboration. In light of increased focus on climate change and the biodiversity crisis the responsible management of plant health risks is ever more important.
We are committed to helping the industry as a whole move towards more responsible plant supply. Boningale has been involved in the development of the Plant Health Management System for many years alongside industry partners, including the Horticultural Trades Association and Nicola Spence from DEFRA, and helped to conduct an initial ‘test run’ of the auditing system in 2017.
Our plant health policy gives details of how we make sure that plant health concerns are tackled throughout our business. This is important for our own resilience as well – an outbreak of a serious disease like Xylella fastidiosa would be catastrophic, with an ensuing restriction on all plant movements within 10km for five years following eradication.
Our staff across all relevant departments have been trained to spot dangerous pests and diseases, and our chairman Tim Edwards is a registered ‘Plant Health Professional’ – we will be encouraging others to go through this valuable training as well. Our upcoming stock control systems upgrade will further improve our security, using scanner technology to make our plant audit trail even more robust.
We know that we cannot tackle this issue alone and continue to build strong, trusting relationships with our excellent European nursery suppliers, while also expanding our network of UK suppliers as the business grows. We endeavour to ensure that our customers are aware of potential risks and mitigation measures.
We are also increasing our own production capacity dramatically with recent expansion to our facilities and nursery sites. With over 2.2 million plants per year already propagated in-house, we have increased control over our own stock production and our propagation unit will soon be expanding and moving to its own facility near to our main nursery site.
Boningale’s experience in implementing the Environmental Management Systems and achieving the ISO 14001 standard since 2007 has been hugely beneficial when implementing the Plant Health Management System.
Many of the measures involved in plant health mitigation also tie in well with our efforts in wider sustainability issues, like transport efficiency and the transition to peat-free production. This helps us to understand the idea of ‘responsible plant supply’ covering many different angles as an integral part of our everyday business.