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Producer Guide to the National Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for Potato Growers
A Guide to Developing Your Farm Biosecurity Plan

2. Understanding the Concepts: Farm Operational  Management

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Farm operational management focuses on the day-to-day farm activities and how they elate to biosecurity. The following information has been developed with an understanding of pest and disease pathways and the associated biosecurity risks. The recommended best practices described in this section should be implemented to reduce the biosecurity risk associated with the movement of people, vehicles and equipment, and the disposal of potato waste.

2.1. Establishing Biosecurity Zones

Target Outcome:

Controlled Access Zones and Restricted Access Zones, are established and identified with appropriate signage to prevent the entry, or contain the spread, of pests and diseases.

Biosecurity zones are areas on your farm where the access is controlled in order to:

  • protect a field, crop, or building from becoming infested or contaminated with a pest or disease.


  • contain a disease or pest within an affected area (e.g. field, storage building) to prevent the spread to other locations outside the zone.

When a biosecurity zone is being established, the risks associated with the movement of a pest or disease in or out of a zone must be assessed. Risk is assessed by understanding the pathways of how diseases and pests may enter or leave a zone, as outlined in Table 1.

To be effective, visibly identify and control these zones, understanding their importance ("to protect or to contain").

These zones are typically referred to as Controlled Access Zones (CAZs) and Restricted Access Zones (RAZs). Procedures to enter and leave Restricted Zones are generally more restrictive than those for Controlled Zones.

Examples of CAZ

  • production fields;
  • potato storages;
  • other areas where access controls may be needed.

Examples of RAZs

  • laboratory and greenhouse used for the production of seed potatoes;
  • high-generation seed potato fields;
  • seed potato storages;
  • a field infested with a disease such as late blight or bacterial ring rot;
  • a field with the confirmed presence of a soil-borne pathogen or pest (i.e. Spongospora subterranea, causal agent of powdery scab; stubby root nematode; Plasmodiophora brassicae, causal agent of clubroot of canola.

The reason why a zone is designated as a restricted zone (to protect or to contain) should be considered when determining appropriate workflow procedures.


  • When a restricted zone is created to protect a high-generation seed field, begin work in this field, and then move to lower-class seed fields;
  • When a field is a restricted zone to contain a soil infestation due to a soil-borne pest, visit the restricted zone last in the farm workflow.

Ideally, in situations where a farm has both seed and commercial production, there should be complete separation of these operations.  If there is not complete separation, the entire farm must be considered as a seed potato farm unit, and the owner must declare to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) all fields planted with potatoes and must meet certain minimum biosecurity requirements.

Complete the cleaning and disinfection of equipment and personnel before entering the restricted zone when its zone is to protect against introduction of pests and diseases into that zone. When the purpose of a restricted zone is to contain a pest, it is critical to take measures to clean and disinfect equipment and personnel as they exit to prevent any further spread. This minimizes the transfer of soil, plant material, and any associated pests and diseases into or outside of the zone, depending on its purpose.

Considerations for establishing and managing Biosecurity Zones:

  • Identify all CAZs and RAZs on the farm map.
  • Post signage with directions on recommended biosecurity practices at main access points and in high-risk areas.
  • Assess equipment for soil and plant debris, and clean and disinfect as required before moving between zones. 
  • Remove soil and plant debris from staff and visitors' footwear and clothing; if necessary, clean and disinfect the items when moving from a CAZ to a RAZ.
  • Assess the previous whereabouts of staff and visitors before entering and exiting the biosecurity zones.

Soil-borne pests – namely, potato wart and potato cyst nematodes – can survive in the soil for long periods of time (over 20 years).

Fully assess the cropping history and previous usage of newly acquired or leased fields for potential diseases and pests before the area is brought into production or fully incorporated into the farm.

Assess the risk of newly acquired land by considering the following:

  • What is the production history or previous use of the land? 
  • Was there an old farm or homestead located on the site?
  • Has the land been used as a home garden or to produce potatoes?
  • Has the land been used regularly to hold and feed livestock with potatoes?
  • What are the history and the results of soil testing for specific pests and diseases such as potato cyst nematodes or Verticillium spp.?

2.2 Movement of People (Protocols, Communication, and Training)

Target Outcome:

Farm personnel, visitors, including service providers, are trained and/or informed of and comply with the farm biosecurity protocols.

People coming onto the farm can unknowingly bring diseases and pests. Soil on footwear and clothing, including used work gloves, may contain soil-borne pests, fungal spores, bacteria, or weed seeds. Even people's hands that do look fairly clean may carry bacterial and fungal pathogens.

To reduce the biosecurity risk associated with the movement of people on the farm, develop policies and procedures to reduce the risk, posed by farm personnel and visitors. Once developed, communicate these policies and procedures to all those who enter the farm, and provide training to farm personnel.

Clothing, footwear, and hands could harbour pathogens invisible to the naked eye (e.g. late blight spores, ring rot bacterium).

Considerations for biosecurity protocols or procedures that relate to the movement of people:

  • Maintain a visitor and service personnel log book.
  • Require that all staff and visitors clean and disinfect their footwear upon entry, with provision of the following options:
    • disposable boots for visitors
    • dedicated footwear for staff for farm or for RAZ use
    • footwear washing facilities and disinfectant dip pans
      If using dip pans, ensure to maintain in order to keep the disinfectant effective. Follow the guidelines on provincial fact sheets, where they exist, or the disinfectant manufacturer's recommendations for mixing rates, contact time, and schedule for changing the disinfectant solution. Be aware that footwear should be cleaned before dipping, as soil and organic matter reduce the effectiveness of most disinfectants.
  • Put on protective over-wear, if deemed necessary, before entering a RAZ.
  • Provide staff with clean dedicated gloves, or instruct them to wash hands prior to working in a greenhouse.
  • Train staff in proper cleaning and disinfection requirements, and to report any deviation in procedures.
  • Ensure that visitors contact the producer before entering the farm, that they are briefed on biosecurity measures, and that their visit is documented.
  • Escort visitors while on the farm.

2.3 Movement of Vehicles and Equipment

 Target Outcome:

All vehicles and equipment, especially those of service providers, are assessed for biosecurity risks, and are cleaned and/or disinfected, when necessary, on entry and exit from the farm, and/or when moving between CAZs and RAZs.

The movement of vehicles and equipment entering and travelling within your farm is a potential risk pathway for introducing pests and diseases. Vehicles and equipment, for example, may have clinging soil or crop debris that could harbour pests or pathogens. There is a lot of vehicle and equipment traffic on a farm, and cleaning and disinfection of all vehicles and equipment is not practical.  However, vehicles and equipment can be a high risk for disease and pest introduction.

High-risk vehicles and equipment:

  • off-farm machinery such as custom applicators, equipment shared with other farms, and vehicles of service providers (agronomy services); and 
  • newly purchased used equipment (especially if used for farm demonstrations prior to purchase).

Protocols and procedures directed at the movement of vehicles and equipment must be practical and effective at reducing the biosecurity risk.

The requirements for cleaning and disinfecting off-farm vehicles and equipment upon entering and exiting the farm should be determined by risk as follows:

  • What area of the farm will they be visiting?
  • What is the nature of their visit/work?
  • Will they be entering controlled or restricted zones?
  • Have they recently visited another farm?
  • Is there visible soil and/or debris on their vehicle/equipment?

Considerations for biosecurity protocols or procedures that relate to the movement of vehicles and equipment:

  • Maintain a record of cleaning and disinfection.
  • Require off-farm vehicles (e.g. service, easement activity, inspection, survey, and vehicles) to remain on designated access roads, and refrain from driving into fields. 
  • If field entry is required, ensure that the vehicle is free of soil and plant debris.
  • Establish traffic-flow patterns in accordance with biosecurity zones (as described in 2.1). 
  • Minimize the movement of equipment over wet soil to avoid excessive movement of soil, and facilitate any required cleaning.

2.4 Waste (water, plant, and soil)

Target Outcome:

A farm waste management program for all potato, soil, and waste water is established and implemented to contain any potential plant pests and diseases.

Potato culls, rogued plants, soil (tare and sediment from wash water), waste water, and used packaging materials are high-risk pathways. The pests and diseases that these materials may contain can easily spread to growing potato crops on your farm and to other farms in the area if no containment measures are in place.

All waste disposal should be done in accordance with existing federal, provincial, and municipal legislation.

Considerations for Waste Disposal:

  • Cull potatoes can be
    • buried in an area not used for the production of a crop, nor close to natural watercourses. They should be placed in a trench and covered with at least 50 cm of soil.
    • spread on a field during the late fall or winter; this timing allows for multiple cycles of freeze/thaw that destroy the viability of the tuber, and speeds up the time required to break down this material. Ideally, field spreading of culls would be done on the field in which they were produced, and the depth of the potato layer should be no greater than 15 cm.
    • fed to livestock. Potatoes should not be stockpiled or otherwise stored outside. Storage should take place inside a building, covered with a tarp or ensiled. If cull potatoes are sent off-farm, the livestock producer, feed manufacturer, or others must be made aware of these storage recommendations. Manure from potato-fed animals should not be returned to land used to produce potatoes.
    • composted, using appropriate mixing ratios and management practices to ensure the temperature within the pile is sufficient to destroy pests and diseases.
  • Immediately remove rogued plants, including any tubers from the field, and avoid contact with other plants, and dispose of properly through
    • burial in an area not used for the production of a crop, nor close to natural watercourses. The rogued material should be placed in a trench and quickly covered with soil.
    • containment of the material in plastic bags or other strong closed containers and disposed of in a municipal waste management program. 
  • Return tare soil to the field of origin.
  • Dispose of sediment from washing in a burial site or in an area that will not be used for potato production. Avoid spreading on potato fields.
  • Keep areas around water sources free of potato crop waste and other potential sources of infestation. Water from these areas should not flow to production areas. 
  • Contain or drain away water from cleaning and disinfection of production and traffic areas to a separate septic system or drainage area.
  • Treat waste water and sediment resulting from washing and/or fluming prior to using for irrigation or returned to fields (e.g. contained in separate retention pools).
  • Avoid reusing packaging materials, such as jute, because they cannot be effectively cleaned or disinfected.

Dispose of all forms of waste on a regular basis.  This is most important during the spring and summer months to avoid rapid transmission to growing crops and contamination of the land used to produce potatoes.

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