Reducing carbon footprint is one thing, but the early adopters of paper-based growing systems are also singing its praises for fast production and healthier root development.
What is paper-based growing, and why is it attracting the attention of growers worldwide?
Paper-based growing is a method adopted by nurseries for seedling and cutting production. Biodegradable paper pots (or cells) hold individual seedlings and are planted directly into the ground without disturbing the roots of the crop.
Automating the process of large-scale propagation is not new, especially for the forestry sector. But an environmentally-friendly solution that stacks up economically has taken extensive research, and BCC FiberCell are at the forefront of this development.
As part of strengthening PrimeHort’s offering in nursery automation and sustainable products, we were delighted to secure the NZ dealership for BCC FiberCell’s machinery and accessories in 2023. Based in Sweden, BCC has produced high-quality nursery gear since 1987 and they have a keen interest in helping our growers Down Under.
The latest FiberCell Paper Pot machines, paper pots and tray holders are suitable for most crops, and it was exciting to receive our first shipment earlier in 2023. These innovative machines are now a staple in our fold, and it was even more thrilling when Annton Nurseries in Cambridge placed the first-ever NZ order!
Why did paper-based growing appeal to Annton Nursery?
Owner, Steve Burton has always embraced nursery automation and together we have worked on some great solutions. Steve came to us looking for a sustainable solution to support his propagation efforts, but the productivity, quality and profit formula had to stack up.
Annton Nursery supplies garden centres around NZ with a mix of perennials, edibles, trees and shrubs, and they are now one of NZ’s most respected and largest wholesale nursery operators. They had been using a similar product to a jiffy pot – with all cuttings and seedlings put into paper plugs, and after establishing a root base, the team would transplant them into bigger pots. Introducing paper pots will speed the process up, while enabling more robust, healthier plants.
Steve and the team like that each little paper pot provides its own perfect growing environment. Because the paper degrades naturally, the seedling can stay in the paper pot when transplanted into a bigger environment, so there is no transplant shock. Because the papers degrade at different rates, growers can select the level of paper to suit the crop. Anntons have chosen an ideal paper for their perennials, shrubs and hebes.
The other reason Steve chose a FiberCell Paper Pot Machine was because of his upcoming expansion into strawberries. The machine will come into its own, with automation achieving about 7000 pots per hour. Essentially, just 1-2 workers will monitor the machine as it forms the pots and places them directly into tray holders. This innovative kit dramatically reduces labour and provides certainty around crop uniformity, quality and output.
Maximising yields is one thing – but Steve also feels great about achieving a more sustainable growing system, and he adds, “We have been using paper pots for nearly 10 years now and in our system they are a significantly more efficient and effective way to propagate. Moving to our own machine has been driven by the increased volumes we will need for our new strawberry facility. This new facility will put out over 1 million young strawberry plants in its first season, with capacity to increase in subsequent years. These plants are all produced in a six-week window, which means we need a machine capable of producing up to 35,000 paper pots per day. This two row FiberCell machine will comfortably achieve that.
For the remainder of the year, we wanted a machine that could increase efficiencies in our regular ornamental program. We will now produce our own 4cm for internal perennial propagation. Plus the second row outside of the strawberry season, we convert to a larger 6cm diameter pot which we will dibble and insert rooted plugs of our shrub lines to eliminate the manual tubing of our shrub product.”
Steve is happy for growers who are considering paper based growing to view his set-up and discuss the machine in detail. “From my perspective, the more growers that are using one, the better for the environment and also the more that are out there, the more likely PrimeHort will carry excellent levels of spare parts, paper and so on.”
Key Benefits of Paper-Based Growing:
- Eco-Friendly Growing – FiberCell Paper Pots are 100% biodegradable at varying levels to suit your crop requirements e.g. from as little as 4-6 weeks through to 12 months.
- Healthy Root Development – Paper pots air-prune roots as they grow towards the pot’s edge, which prevents root circling, encourages healthier root systems and leads to better/faster plant growth.
- Easy Transplanting – because the paper pot is planted directly into its next-stage environment, there is no transplant shock, and it becomes a quick and seamless process.
- Water and Air Circulation – paper is porous, allowing for good water drainage and aeration which prevents waterlogged soil and promotes robust root development.
- Crops Thrive! Paper pots create a controlled growing environment for seedlings and enable the best possible start in life.
- Minimal Root Disruption – crops stay in their paper pots when transplanted, which reduces the risk of stressing fragile new root systems compared to traditional plastic pots.
How quick is the installation process? How about staff training?
Compact and simple to install, operate and maintain, FiberCell machines perform accurately year after year, and can usually prove their worth within the first season.
Installation is very efficient, usually one day (plus allowance for travel). Staff training can be completed seamlessly in one visit, with PrimeHort recently training the staff at Annton Nursery over one day.
Will the FiberCell Paper Pot machine suit every nursery?
Tailored machinery is a strong focus of FiberCell who recognise plant nurseries around the globe have unique crops and growing conditions. Talk to PrimeHort about your situation and they can recommend the best option.
Is there good access to paper-based machines, spare parts and paper accessories?
Yes. PrimeHort carries excellent stock levels of FiberCell Papers across all levels to suit herbs, leafy greens, flowers and forestry. FiberCell Paper allows you to grow the ideal root plug with a large biomass.
FiberCell has also designed Tray Holders to give seedlings or cuttings the best possible start in life with a well-developed root system. We stock a range of different holders to meet growers specific needs.
We have FiberCell Paper Pot Machines in the showroom right now – ready to show customers how they work. Otherwise, lead times for a machine is approximately 16-28 weeks.
See a FiberCell Paper Pot machine in action!
Annton Nursery has kindly offered to show their 2 Row FiberCell Paper Pot Machine to any interested growers considering paper-based growing in their nursery business.
We also have the machines on our showroom floor if Northland is a closer address for you. On display is the FiberCell Semi-Automatic Filling Machine 2-Row which is ideal for small to large nurseries, designed for efficient operations with low downtime and minimal peat spill with fine cuttings. Plus we can show you the Fully Automatic Filling Machine with automatic Pot Placing.
Durable and of the highest quality, these paper-based growing systems minimise the carbon footprint while ensuring cost-effective propagation of plants and high-quality, healthy crops.
If reducing plastic, while achieving great results sounds exciting – talk to us today!