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A Systems Approach for Management of Pests and Pathogens of Nursery Crops

Parke, Jennifer L., Grünwald, Niklaus J.
Plant disease 2012 v.96 no.9 pp. 1236-1244
HACCP, Phytophthora, critical control points, food industry, forestry, horticulture, nursery crops, pathogens, pest management, pests, shipping, technology
Horticultural nurseries are heterogeneous and spatially complex agricultural systems, which present formidable challenges to management of diseases and pests. Moreover, nursery plants shipped interstate and internationally can serve as important vectors for pathogens and pests that threaten both agriculture and forestry. Current regulatory strategies to prevent this movement of pathogens and pests with nursery plants are based on visual inspections of plants just before shipping, a process that is costly and inadequate. Here we propose the application of a systems approach for horticultural nurseries modeled after the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) approach widely used in the food processing industry. We evaluated aspects of the systems approach to analyze contamination hazards by Phytophthora species and then implemented management practices targeting specific critical control points. The systems approach for analyzing and correcting unsafe practices offers a potential alternative strategy for preventing plant contamination that could be broadly applied to many pests and pathogens. One of the hallmarks of this approach is its flexibility, including the ability to improve and adapt the approaches as new technologies are developed or improved and to provide the grower with management options.