Lock Up the Biosecurity of Your Grow Op
The importance of physically securing your facility is established knowledge among growers, but failing to secure your high-grade crop against an infestation of pests or contaminants can be financially devastating as well. Surna’s Michael Caffrey looks at biosecurity and how to take preventative measures against these issues.
The biological security of a cultivation facility is just as important as the physical security. The physical security includes measures such as locks, cameras, fences, lighting, and more and is often, at least in part, required by law. Biosecurity includes measures such as air sanitation, dehumidification, cleaning procedures, and more and is often not directly required, though it can become an indirect requirement due to product testing and purity requirements.
While often less familiar than physical security, biosecurity is no less important, especially when growing for a medical market. Creating and maintaining a clean cultivation environment results in reduced pesticide and fungicide needs, a reduced risk of crop failure due to contamination, and increased chances of passing any required lab tests.
Implementing an effective biosecurity system within in a cultivation facility comes down to being thorough and regularly assessing the effectiveness of both the procedures and equipment used in the quest for a biologically secure facility.
Routine assessments should be performed often—at least once a week but daily if possible—to catch any problems before they become critical. Routine checks also ensure the measures in place are working to prevent contamination within the facility.
Prevention is easier and cheaper than dealing with a contamination. A bleach wipe down of all surfaces costs less than 6 cents per wipe, whereas a crop failure or recall can cost tens of thousands of dollars and potentially create irreparable damage to your brand. Once a contaminant such as powdery mildew gets into a facility, it can be nearly impossible to remove.
Once biosecurity standard operating procedures have been established in a facility, routine checks both ensure they are working and are actually being followed. A large part of biosecurity comes down to relying on employees to follow proper procedure, and routine checks ensure they will do so.
What to Look For
During your routine biosecurity checks, it is important to know what to look for. Here are the top things that are typically seen, but be sure to incorporate your own factors into this list:
- Are employees following standard operating procedures?
- Are equipment and tools being cleaned before use on a new plant?
- Is humidity at the correct levels? Are there any spikes throughout the day?
- Is water draining properly? Are there any standing pools of water?
- Are there any visible signs of pests or pathogens?
- Is the air quality at proper levels?
Routine checks will help establish a baseline for biosecurity and allow holes in the current system to be revealed before a bigger problem occurs. If at any point, your biosecurity is found to be lacking, call an expert to perform an analysis and help create a safer environment for your plants.