Travel diaries from Europe – What’s hot in hort?
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Travel diaries from Europe – What’s hot in hort?

Mar 26, 2023 - Category : News

PrimeHort reporting live from the IPM Trade Fair and beyond!

With international travel back in our lives, PrimeHort’s General Manager, Mike, welcomed the opportunity to attend the IPM Trade Show held in Germany. As the world’s leading horticulture trade fair, it was exciting to catch up with suppliers and trawl the stands of 1,330 exhibitors from 46 nations.

Along with the IPM Trade Show, Mike also visited a Vertical Farming specialist and secured a new greenhouse supplier to meet NZ demand for greenhouse technology and solutions.

PrimeHort exists to help nursery, landscape and garden retailers succeed. If we’re going to maximise yields, productivity and profitability for our customers, we need to be among the action – securing supply, scoping out new products and building on relationships abroad. After covid put the handbrake on travel, it’s great to be out there again, representing NZ growers and finding ways to improve their livelihoods.

Here is a brief overview of the highlights:

IPM Trade Show – sustainability is key.

Innovation ruled here! There were many advances in growing technology, plus smart new retail garden products. Climate change and sustainability was a defining theme at the show.

Visitor numbers exceeded 40,000 and the overall mood felt optimistic. Mike noticed very few visitors from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific or America, with most from the Northern Hemisphere.

There were some exciting advances in sustainable growing methods, many of which are viable for New Zealand growers. One of the biggest opportunities for our customers lies in vertical / automated growing (more details below).

The event also allowed us to team up with our Aussie counterparts and share knowledge around coco fibre products. We’re now confident of supplying our customers with a superior coco fibre product with better stock certainty too.

On the eco-friendly front, we enjoyed catching up with our biodegradable pot provider, Fertilpot. It’s easy to see how Fertilpot pots and trays are on the right path to delete plastic from the ornamentals and herb market – these quality products are automation-friendly up to 14cm (1 litre) and are compatible with any potting machine.

Our Sphagnum Peat suppliers have improved their production facilities meaning we have secured a direct supply source (cutting out the middleman) and we’re looking forward to providing competitive pricing for customers.

Decorative Pots are in good shape! Soon we’ll introduce a new eco-friendly cork range and an interior living wall system to enhance offices and home spaces.

It was good to see our friends at FibreCell who specialise in paper growing systems. We are about to install a FibreCell Potting Machine into a Waikato based nursery – stay tuned.

Finally, for our retail customers, we saw many new products for encouraging children into the garden and we’ll promote them to you soon.

Vertical Farming – welcome to the robotic age!

Recently Mike Wearmouth visited a Vertical Farming business in Italy and was excited by its potential for Kiwi Growers who focus on leafy veggies, berries and herbs. Once a vacant warehouse, this Italian operation has now been repurposed with pallet racked benching to the ceiling (each rack with its own lighting). Supplying trays to the benches and then transferring them to a cutting line is a robot! Automation continues on the cutting line where the greens are separated, individually bagged up, then packed in boxes and pallet wrapped – fully ready to reach the market. A washing/steriliser machine receives the empty tray, does it’s bit and sends it back to the seeding line for a repeat of the system. It was an eye-opener seeing this activity fully-automated.

The set-up investment will be comprehensive, but when considering the long-term benefits, it could be lucrative:

  1. LONGER SEASONS – The nature of ‘seasonal’ crops is removed, meaning crop yields are continuous.Protective growing also means less chance of any significant crop loss due to weather issues. Growing under LED lighting replaces the need for sunshine. These factors give Growers confidence around meeting delivery contracts.
  2. SUPERIOR CROP YIELDS – Using the same floor layout yet growing more per sqm, along with shelterfrom inclement weather results in superior crop yields than traditional growing methods.
  3. START-UP ANYWHERE – Vertical Farming can be operated anywhere that water supply and power access is reliable.
  4. SECURE FOOD SUPPLY – pests, pollutants and disease are less of a threat with Vertical Farming, which leads to a stronger promise around food security.
  5. ORGANIC VALUE – Growing without chemicals and sprays, along with consumers not having to wash produce gives it an organic quality and higher value potential for growers.
  6. EXTENDED SHELF LIFE – ‘best before’ dates should have a longer timeframe due to the crop quality being higher.
  7. SMARTER WATER USE – Advanced irrigation and recirculation systems should minimise water waste. This controlled growing environment is great for crops susceptible to droughts.
  8. FLEXIBLE SERVICE – PrimeHort solutions are kitset and/or modular, meaning we can supply ready for you to assemble, or deliver a complete service of cost-effective installation and training.

Greenhouse solutions are in good hands!

PrimeHort has strengthened its partnership of suppliers in greenhouse technology and equipment and is very optimistic about the future of this space.

Our latest agency, Lucchini is a 3rd generation family business and after a visit to their facilities in Mantova, Italy, we couldn’t be more confident about their offering. Innovation, quality and customisation puts this business ahead of the rest. Its founders are still deeply involved, with the next generation bringing fresh ideas and energy.

Lucchini produce ‘turnkey’ greenhouses across six tiered levels (but all customised to suit), from cost effective, through to the most advanced, temperature-controlled systems which can be clad and used as commercial buildings.

If would like to find out more about vertical farming or greenhouse solutions, please get in touch with us at – we would be delighted to assist.

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