We are glad you found our website! You will find descriptions here of the various types of work that we do to provide technical support to Maine crop farmers. Please contact us if you do not find your topic of agricultural interest. If we can't help you, we may be able to connect you to someone who can. We have also included links to sources of information that may be useful to you.Uncategorized
Lots of concern about nitrogen loss from recent heavy rains. Before you spend money on additional fertilizer, a soil nitrate test or a tissue analysis is our recommendation. There is often more nitrogen left than we think! Let us know if we can help you with this.
Train your staff (and family) using pages 5 and 18 in your food safety plan. Make sure each worker is trained in his/her native language annually and signs all sections on page 18 each year. Keep those signed copies in your food safety book.
- WORKERS MUST BE TRAINED BEFORE THEY EVER TOUCH THE PRODUCE!
- Provide your staff with Worker Protection Standard Training. This is not a direct component of GAP, but is a longstanding requirement of all pesticide users that employ non-family members. This training is good for several years. DVDs in several languages are available from State Pesticide Offices or Farm Suppliers (like Gemplers.com).
- Clean, sanitize, and prepare your harvest containers and implements for harvest. Enter when you did this and what you did in the log on page 13. Store these containers and tools inside in a protected area.
- Make sure bathroom and handwash facilities are stocked, sanitized, and ready. You need 1 unit for each 20 workers. Mobile units must be placed in areas where they can be maintained easily and be located outside of crop production areas.
- Monitor your fields on a regular basis (biweekly, daily…) and record this on page 13. Include brief notes about what you saw and what you did about it.
- Make and post signs describing approved handwashing techniques in wash facilities, eating areas, or areas where people congregate. Page 19 in FSP
- Establish your Visitor Policy and if you make it different from what is already in the FSP, add it to the FSP and post it on signs for all to see. (Page 20 sample) Treat all visitors the same. If they touch the produce, they must have washed their hands before. Anything beyond that is up to you (signing in, not allowing them beyond a certain point…)
- Supervision–Workers need to know that you expect compliance with the training you gave them every day. This is a way of life.
- Complete your FSP and map. Make sure you label (or number) the fields on your map for traceability.
- Are your first aid kits stocked and available for workers?
- Is equipment clean and in good working order?
- Are fuel and chemicals stored away from crop/produce areas?
- HAVE YOU COMPLETED THE PREHARVEST CHECKLIST and put it in your FSP? Page 12
- Have you figured out how you will mark your master units for traceability? Will you put that information on your sales receipts so you have a record too? You need to know where the produce came from (field) and where it went (not individual customers, rather businesses you sold to)
Do your employees know and understand the standard operating procedures in your FSP for blood, glass, contaminants…?
Here is a list of things you need to think about in early spring if you are interested in GAP certification:
- Complete as much of your Food Safety Plan as you can at this time.
- Get your water tests done. Once each year for wells for potability. It must meet the US Public Health Service Drinking Water Standards (42CFR part 72). For irrigation with surface waters, get one sample at planting, one during peak use, and one at harvest. Mark these dates on the calendar to remind you to test! With surface water you are looking for e coli counts that meet the water standard that you set and include in your food safety plan. (In ME, some use Recreational Standard of 126 ppm e coli)
- Include a brief land history for the land use risk assessment in your plan. Page 2
- If you spread manure, use the chart on pg. 21 of the Food Safety Plan to record dates of spread, incorporation and anticipated harvest. Keep in mind the 120 day to harvest rule.
- If you stack manure or compost near production areas, ensure there is no chance of leachate percolating into the production areas during the growing season. Use slope, containment, or immediate spreading protocols.
- If your land is subject to flooding, or was used as a feedlot in the last 3 years, you may want to test it for e coli/microbial hazards and keep the results in your plan and think about what you plant there, based on those results.
- If you have a pesticide license, make sure you have kept it up to date.
- Check to make sure your septic system is operating appropriately.
- If you irrigate with surface water, think about steps you might take steps to prevent potential contamination of your water source. (berms, diversions, fencing, back flow devices…)
- If you keep animals, decide and put into effect methods to deter them from entering produce areas during the growing season.
- If your production area is near or adjacent to animal production facilities, make sure adequate barriers exist. (wooded areas, distance, slope of land…)
- If you have a manure lagoon, make sure it doesn’t leak or overflow on the production land. You can use ditches, mounds, grass/sod, or diversion berms.
- Restrict livestock from the source or delivery system of irrigation water. (>200ft)
- Keep records proving your compost, manure, or biosolids reached appropriate temperatures for the recommended period of time, or get the records from your supplier or use the 120 day rule.