Best Management Practices for Producing Clean Nursery Stock

7. Record keeping

Objective:  maintain records that help verify that inputs are clean and nursery workers are complying with clean production practices and facilitate traceability of materials used for the production process. 

What you should know:  Well-documented, consistent records are a key element of any certification systems and are needed to document that a nursery is following clean production practices.  Even if you are not selling to clients that require this documentation, adequate records and documentation are a key tool of any nursery following a clean production system.  Where multiple workers are involved, records show who did what and when.  This information helps the nursery manager monitor working practices, and also provides a way to trace back problems that may arise in one or more batches of plants.  Having good records can mean the difference between a quarantine of the entire nursery to track down a Phytophthora infestation and focusing on a small group of plants that may have been exposed to a particular lapse or exception.

Some areas of record keeping to consider are listed below.  A useful way to organize much of this information is to maintain planting-to-sale records for each separate batch of plants that allows you to quickly review all of the inputs and cultural practices during production as well as plant health issues that have been observed.

What to consider:

7.1. Planting materials:  Dated logs noting collection locations or sources, propagule types, storage (e.g., dates, locations, temperature) and treatment (e.g., dips, heat treatment) parameters.

7.2. Containers:  Dated logs of type of pots and flats used (new or reused) for each batch of plants.  If reused containers are used, note cleaning and sanitation details (when treated, by whom, how).  

7.3. Potting media:  Dated logs indicating the source and treatment of potting media, (including time and temperature data).

7.4. Water:  documentation of water supply used, including practices used for maintaining wellhead integrity, if applicable.  If using municipal sources, you may only need to make note of when maintenance occurs, such as repairing broken pipes, etc.

7.5. Production practices:  Dated logs should include records for testing or refreshing disinfectant solutions (post a log sheet near the site), plant health inspections, checklists, and other records used to emphasize and maintain clean production practices. 

7.6. Testing:  Keep track of which batches or individual plants have been tested, where they were located in the nursery, and dated results.  Indicate what happened to the plants and any follow-up or determinations as to the source of identified detections.

7.7. Plant batches:  Use pot labels to identify each plant batch.  The batch number should allow you to identify the type and source of plant propagules used, dates of potting and repotting, type of potting media used and how/when it was treated, testing, and other production inputs and handling.  This information is critical for tracing potential sources of contamination if plants in a given batch are found to be infected.

7.8. Worker training:  If you have multiple workers or volunteers, keep track of training that was conducted (when, by whom, topics).  Make sure nursery workers have read BMPs and other related materials and have enough training to follow them.  Keep copies of BMPs and related references available for quick reference in the nursery.