We noted an interesting under story brewing as the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show previews today with the usual high-status visitors and media blast – that there are growing concerns about guaranteeing complete biosecurity of plants and trees on exhibit, as many are rare, imported species. It looks like the tracking and tracing of plants and plant-based produce is now high priority on the list of plant and tree growers.
Of course, these challenges are not only for Chelsea show garden creators and the RHS is keen to establish clear guidelines – laid out clearly on their plant heath web page https://bit.ly/2HEVMts. These rules and regulations were sent out directly to 2019 competitors for show plants and trees, so we can be sure the exhibits there are safe and of course, lovely to look at.
With commercial enterprises, there is always conflict between risk taking, profit and compliance. With trends in horticulture (yes, it is often down to the gardeners amongst us!) pressure for suppliers to meet demand from any overseas supplier is likely and does risk spreading disease. Reported in The Telegraph recently, Defra’s chief plant health officer Professor Nicola Spence said, “Gardening trends can drive biosecurity behaviour, “Just because it’s available on Amazon doesn’t necessarily mean it’s actually legal and we are constantly working with Amazon and eBay to track down material that is not compliant.”
Guidance and Compliance
There is new guidance from the European Union Committee Report: Brexit – Parliament UK (importing and exporting plants and plant products) that aims to tackle the issue of continued and future biosecurity risks not just for the UK – but with EU and global consequences. https://bit.ly/2HDiYIG
The European Commission, however, also stridently outlines its key strategies for exporting plants and plant products to the EU – that they must typically have a tracked and fully traceable, robust record from the point of origin to the point of entry.
RFID enabled solutions
RFIDdirect are currently working on new, specific RFID technology enabled solutions for the horticulture industry, having anticipated the increased concern over plant health and safety. The aim is to proactively maintain up to date inventory records throughout the life-cycle of any plant product – removing as much risk as possible and improving productivity.