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The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers. Visit your local county extension office.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Farm Food Safety: Farm Irrigation Waters, Animals, Previous Land Use

Part 9 of Preparing Your Farm Food Safety Plan

- Meredith Melendez and Wes Kline

This is the ninth article in a series dedicated to preparing a farm food safety plan. Remember you may not need a third party audit; it depends on who is purchasing your produce.  However, everyone should have a food safety plan.

The farm review is an overview of how you minimize the chance of contamination through irrigation waters, wild animals and past land use.  This can be as simple as three paragraphs, one focusing on irrigation waters, the next on wild animal activity on the farm and the last on the previous use of the land.  The following items should be included:

Irrigation waters

-          What is the source(s) of irrigation water used on the farm?

-          How do you irrigate your crops with these waters?

-          How often, when and what, do you test irrigation waters for to determine possible contaminants?

-          If barriers are used around the water areas indicate what is used.

-          Is there a septic system, and if so where is it located and does it pose a contamination risk?

-          Are there any off farm sewage areas that might pose a potential contamination risk to the farm?

-          Are there any animal production facilities on the farm, or on adjacent properties?  If so how close are they to your production areas?

-          Are manures or municipal biosolids (note we do not recommend the use of biosolids in vegetable production)used as a soil amendment?  If so document how and when they are received, stored, and applied.


-          How are pets and wild animals excluded from growing areas?

-          If hunting is allowed, indicate the timing and that a predation permit is obtained for out of season hunting.

-          When and how are fields monitored for animal activity prior to harvest?

-          What is done if animal activity is found in the fields?

-          Does the farm have manure storage?  If so where are they and what measures are taken to prevent leaking, overflow and runoff?

-          If livestock is kept on the farm what are the measures taken to prevent access to irrigation water sources and equipment?

Manure and Municipal Biosolids

-          Is raw manure used on the farm?  If so:

o   Keep application records showing that the raw manure is incorporated at least 2 weeks prior to planting, and a minimum of 120 days prior to harvest.

-          Is treated manure used on the farm?  If so:

o   The treated manure should be properly treated, composted or exposed to environmental conditions that would lower the pathogen levels.

-          Is composted manure used on the farm?  If so:

o   The composted manure should be properly treated, composted or exposed to environmental conditions that would lower the pathogen level.

 Previous land use

-          Is there evidence of any imminent risk of contamination of the soil during any previous use of the land?

-          How was the land previously used?

-          Is the land subject to flooding?  If so when and how.

Lastly you should indicate here that each field is given a unique code/number so that traceability can be ensured.