Greenhouse *A* System for Michigan Producers (FAS108)

Greenhouse *A* System for Michigan Producers (FAS108)

Greenhouse producers may use this bulletin to assist in becoming MAEAP verified.

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Introduction

Greenhouse◆A◆Syst will help growers develop and implement management plans and site improvements that prevent contamination of groundwater and surface water resources and maintain economic crop production. Plans will be consistent with the identified 2015 Michigan Right to Farm Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) and with applicable state, federal and local environmental regulations.

Nutrients used in greenhouse production come from chemical fertilizers and naturally occurring sources. All nutrients, whether synthetic or naturally occurring, can become mixed with surface water or groundwater by natural processes such as runoff and leaching. Nitrate contamination of groundwater and phosphorus contamination of surface water can be problems in Michigan. Greenhouse◆A◆Syst will assess current nutrient management practices and identify alternative management practices that, when implemented, will reduce nutrient losses to the environment.

Virtually all crops produced in Michigan greenhouses may be threatened by serious pest problems – disease-producing organisms, insects and weeds. Producers are encouraged to adopt pest management practices that achieve the desired crop quality and yield while minimizing any adverse effects on non-target organisms, humans, and soil and water resources. Greenhouse◆A◆Syst will assess current pest management practices and identify alternative management practices that, when implemented, will reduce negative impacts on the environment.

The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is a comprehensive, proactive and voluntary agricultural pollution prevention program. It takes a systems approach to assist producers in evaluating their farms for environmental risks. The on-farm risk evaluation uses specific tools for each system. Greenhouse◆A◆Syst covers the environmental risks for both the Farmstead and the Cropping Systems.

The Michigan Right to Farm Act authorizes the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development to develop and adopt GAAMPs for farms and farm operations in Michigan. These voluntary practices are based on available technology and scientific research to promote sound environmental stewardship. The current Right to Farm GAAMPs are posted on the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Web site: http://www.michigan gov/m.dard.

Producers who complete the Greenhouse◆A◆Syst assessment will be able to determine what structural, management practices or record-keeping changes (if any) will be needed for the businesses to be environmentally assured through MAEAP. Once a producer develops and implements a Greenhouse System Improvement Action Plan to address the risks indicated by the assessment, he/she can contract the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) at (517) 284-5609 to request a MAEAP Greenhouse System verification inspection. A MDARD inspector will schedule a site inspection to complete the verification process.

P.A. 451, Part 82, ensures the confidentiality of the producer information provided to the MDARD for verification. Any information connected with the development, implementation or verification of a conservation plan or conservation practices is confidential.

Owners of a MAEAP-verified Greenhouse System are eligible for various incentives and can enjoy legislated incentives if an agricultural pollution emergency ever occurs at their facilities and MAEAP standards are practiced.

For a list of currently available incentives and information on how to get started, contact a local conservation district, MSU Extension or NRCS representative.

Greenhouse operations with nursery stock production will also need to complete Nursery◆A◆Syst. Section 13 of this document (Outdoor Container Management Practices) is for greenhouse producers who have outdoor production of floricultural crops.

What is the Greenhouse Assessment System?

Greenhouse◆A◆Syst is a series of risk questions that will help assess how effectively a producer’s greenhouse management practices protect groundwater and surface water resources. The risk questions are grouped in the following sections:

  1. Greenhouse Site/Soil Evaluation
  2. Water Well Condition
  3. Pesticide Storage and Handling
  4. Pesticide Handler and Worker Safety
  5. Fertilizer Storage and Handling
  6. Petroleum Product Storage and Management
  7. Waste Management
  8. Septic System Management
  9. Nutrient Management Practices
  10. Water Management Practices
  11. Soil and Water Conservation Practices 
  12. Pest Management Practices
  13. Outdoor Production Container Management
  14. Other Environmental Risks at the Greenhouse Operation

Each risk question assesses the impact of management practices on groundwater and surface water resources. The risk question answers indicate whether management practices have a low, medium or high risk of water contamination. Producers are generally recommended to adopt the low-risk management practice. Responses to risk questions that address management practices that are regulated by state or federal law indicate illegal practices with black bold print. The numbered footnotes indicate what regulation(s) is violated. Refer to Table 3, page 58.

Responses to risk questions that address management practices covered by the GAAMPs indicate a management practice consistent with a specific GAAMP with blue bold italic print.

Finally, a blue box indicates the management level(s) required for MAEAP verification.

MAEAP management requirements are aligned with state and federal environmental regulations. The GAAMPs and environmentally based horticultural management practices are supported by research. The records and/or evidence that indicate the approved management practices have been implemented on the farm are listed in the far right column. This evidence will provide the basis for awarding environmental assurance through MAEAP.

Horticultural advisors (both public and private) can assist growers to make the appropriate management changes to become environmentally assured through MAEAP.

How does GreenhouseuAuSyst Work?

1) Select all relevant sections for the greenhouse operation.

2) Answer each risk question by selecting the answer that best describes management practices used in the operation. Indicate the risk level in the column to the right. Skip any questions that do not apply to the Greenhouse System. Note: for MAEAP verification, complete the risk questions with a Greenhouse◆A◆Syst trained individual. Locate a MAEAP technician through the county conservation district or MSU Extension office.

3) After completing each section of risk questions, list the practices that present a high risk of contaminating ground water and surface water resources in the Greenhouse System Improvement Action Plan (printed inside the front cover of the bulletin). Also include any medium-risk practices that do not meet MAEAP verification requirements.

4) In the Greenhouse System Improvement Action Plan, list:

  • Management practices or site improvements that are planned for implementation that will reduce the identified risk.
  • Sources of technical and financial assistance.
  • Target dates for accomplishing the changes.
  • Target date for MAEAP Greenhouse System verification.

A Few Final Words

The key to Greenhouse◆A◆Syst is that once environmental risks to groundwater and surface water resources have been identified, the plan is implemented to reduce the risks. Some of the stewardship practices that will reduce risks may cost very little and take very little time to implement. Other practices may involve additional cost and may not be implemented for a few years. It is important, however, to have a plan to follow. Once a plan is developed and changes are implemented to address the risks, the greenhouse is ready for MAEAP Greenhouse System verification.

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