Leithfield Nursery Automate to Boost Productivity
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Leithfield Nursery Automate to Boost Productivity

Nov 30, 2022 - Category : Automation

Leithfield Nursery is a well-established business in Southland producing forestry seedlings on a large scale. Early in 2022, the team approached PrimeHort with an open brief to transition some of their operations from inground planting (selling bare-root pine trees) to a containerised system in the 64 Cell Forestry Trays. The motivation to automate for Leithfield was compelling – they had a presold contract for “as many plants as possible”. So the goal was set at 2.5 million pine seedlings ready for sowing by September, which gave PrimeHort a tight deadline of about nine months from initial discussion.

The first site visit revealed a large flat paddock with old established trees. Based on our advice, stage one saw Leithfield clear the paddock and prep it with metal drainage and electrical and water supply lines. From here the first equipment to be installed was a customised DaRos Seeding Line so the team could start sowing while we pressed on with getting the Outdoor Benches and Irrigation Booms installed.

For the completion of the growing season, PrimeHort specified a suitable Tray Washer so all of the Forestry Trays can be effortlessly cleaned and sterilised ready for next season. An operation of this scale also requires an innovative production system. An Automated Plug Popper machine has been installed and de-pops seedlings from their trays in a quick, hassle-free manner – up to 400 trays per hour. The end customer receives the pine seedlings in a ready-to-plant manner.

This time-pressured project went very smoothly. For PrimeHort, it was an exciting undertaking with Leithfield investing circa $1.5m for a custom-designed set up. Our automation and projects team enjoyed the challenge of a looming deadline and recognising the importance of strong communication and well-researched technical advice, including details around expected power usage, water volumes and fertiliser requirements. Accurate cost estimates were also vital to ensure no ‘hidden costs’ or stress to the client.

The end result is an impressive nursery where the sky’s the limit. We were delighted to assist Leithfield and look forward to growing with the team.

“The team at PrimeHort have been fantastic to work with, right from the planning stage to the final result, the project ran on time and to our requirements. Communication was great with Joel keeping us informed along the way. We’re very happy with the completed installation. 

We are enjoying working with the equipment and would highly recommend contacting PrimeHort for your nursery needs.”  Darren Cripps – Production Manager

If you would like to find out more about nursery automation or our horticulture products, please contact the team.


Fact Check:

  • Why is containerised growing better than bare-root?
    Greater control than inground planting, better survival rate, faster/uniform growth, space saving at the nursery, less vulnerable to disease.
  • What are the staff levels at Leithfield?
    Just 4-6 staff have the capacity to produce 2.5m+ seedlings along with other roles.
  • When is it viable for a nursery to automate?
    Nursery automation can be done in stages meaning the initial outlay can be modest. For increased productivity it all begins with the right piece of automation and PrimeHort can support your decision making with expert advice.
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