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It pays to automate!
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It pays to automate!

May 16, 2022 - Category : Automation

Every week, PrimeHort are fielding enquiries from customers about nursery automation and how it might suit. Some of the most rewarding conversations are from businesses who have taken the leap into automation and are now reaping the rewards, including greater productivity and quality, increased bottom lines and a boost in team morale too.

In this article, we focus on automated dibbling lines, their proven benefits for nurseries and their hardworking teams. We highlight how these innovative machines could be a gamechanger in your workplace too.

Manual dibbling in potting production is laborious and even unreliable. Poorly dibbled holes can lead to seedling damage, and anyone currently filling trays by hand or poking holes manually will agree, the process is slow and clunky.

PrimeHort are exclusive New Zealand distributors of Da Ros machinery. Founded in 1986, Da Ros machines are manufactured in Italy, an area rich in agricultural land and successful growers. Together with PrimeHort, Da Ros are providing highly specialised machinery to the New Zealand nursery industry and have fast gained the trust of approx. 700 nurseries nationwide (and growing every year).

Automated dibbling lines remove the manual element of potting production and can be customised to suit your crops and the facilities where they are grown.

While seen as a significant investment (circa $80,000) the machinery typically pays for itself in one season – particularly with the rising cost (and shortage) of labour. Instead of taking on more staff to help in potting production, this machine can achieve 10 times more than one average worker. It can also be rewarding to change the focus of your existing staff from manual work to new roles that support automation, with the added bonus of lifting morale as productivity soars.

Looking closer at productivity numbers, PrimeHort often receives feedback suggesting nurseries who previously turned out 100,000 plants per season and invested in about $80,000 in kit, easily soar to 500,000 plants per season – with the same number of staff.

Da Ros machinery loves NZ natives! Despite their varying root structures and less uniformity among the plants, the dibbler line will drill holes with perfect consistency in trays to suit all crops. Best still, the dibbling heads can be changed-out to either have a press plate or rotating drills to suit different plants, tray sizes, depth and position – all with consistent quality output.

Likewise, if a nursery wishes to pivot in their business and change their trays – PrimeHort can swap it out to suit. It works very well with our 28 Cell Deep Seedling Trays & 50 Cell Deep Seedling Trays along with our Pots in Shuttle Trays.

For those concerned about the upfront investment, the good news is Da Ros gear is modular. The first outlay will be the tray filler component because if you’re not filling with a machine, you’re stacking trays somewhere, grabbing them, filling by hand with a shovel, compacting and repeating (over & over…). Whereas with the tray filler it’s a single-pass, filling the soil, punching the holes and pumping out 400 or so trays an hour.

What are some other benefits?

  • Uniformity and quality control
  • Consistent speed set for workers, preventing dips in productivity levels
  • Economical on power (can be customised to use with 3-phase or single phase)
  • PrimeHort can provide set-up and training support (simple to use)
  • Finance is available, or structured payment terms to suit
  • Stock certainty

At PrimeHort, we are passionate about seeing a grower develop their nursery and make dramatic improvements. If you would like to see the dibbler line in action, please let us know and we can tell you where to visit a machine nearby you. For more information please contact Joel our Nursery Automation Specialist.

Client, Adam Thompson from Restore Native features in On Farm Story is seen here enjoying the merits of nursery automation at about 3 minutes 54 seconds:  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kH4nVE1wAXk

“We decided to invest in a new Automated Dibbling Line from PrimeHort to assist us in our production of native re-veg lines for native forest restoration & riparian planting.

These plantings are quite diverse in the various species of NZ native plants we use for each project.

This means at production time, the tray sizes we use and grades we plant into can be quite varied between plant species. For instance; Manuka, Carex testacea and Kahikatea all grow quite differently, so will require different container sizes when planted from seedlings.

The Automated Dibbling Line gives us extra flexibility at planting time but also speeds up what would normally be a labour intensive planting job for our staff.

Less time spent in production means our staff have more time with quality control and ensuring what we sell is the best quality”.

Adam Thompson
Restore Native

It pays to automate!-2
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