Bedding growers hear of technological advances

The British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) has examined technology use in the glasshouse at its annual spring conference, with robot use becoming more topical as threats to labour supply rise following Brexit.

Art van Wingerden
Art van Wingerden

Speaker Art van Wingerden of Metrolina Greenhouses, North Carolina, told the audience of bedding plant growers that automation was preferable to "stagnation".

He said he turns crops five times a year at his 168 acres nursery, which also has 257 acres outdoor space.

He said technology has progressed from transplanters in the 1980s to next generation 100 per cent fill transplanters being trialled now.

Using cranes increases nursery space use from 71 to 87 per cent, while Metrolina's 12 x $30,000 robots space 250 pots per robot per hour.

Sticking machines are the newest innovation, from ISO Group and Visser in Holland. These can stick 2 million cuttings a week.

Also being trialled, are drones to spray crops evenly and electrostatic spraying.

Dr Matthew Howard of Kings College London spoke on GROWBOT, a grower-programmable robot he is working on. He said 'soft' robots that can handle fruit are being developed.

What robots do for nurseries was Professor Simon Pearson of University of Lincoln's talk. He said tethered Danish trolleys pulled in a train, mobile automated trolleys, collaborative robots and picking systems were on the horizon. Autonomous vehicles for carrying platforms on nurseries and using UV light applied by robots to control powdery mildew are further innovations. Palletisation by £20,000 robots is a mass market opportunity, he added.

He said using robots was rising up people's agendas now leaving the EU was nearing, which could mean labour supply for Europe is harder to source..

In another future-scanning talk at the joint HTA Contact hardy nursery stock event, Nuffield Scholarship traveller Bruce Harnett, managing director, Kernock Park Plants, talked about technological adoption, advances and potential in the industry. 
Meanwhile, consultant John Hall is reviewing the BPOA's role, by interviewing growers. His report will be published in February. Kersten Catella of Newey Group is new vice chairman and is set to succeed Greg Hill as chairman in 2018.
See more in the next issue of Horticulture Week.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sisyrinchium

Sisyrinchium

This huge but slightly odd genus offers multiple choices for the rock garden or alpine house, says Miranda Kimberley.

Horticulture education update - staying on course

Horticulture education update - staying on course

Raised levels of investment in horticulture education and increased student take-up is welcome news for the industry, says Rachel Anderson.

Tree planting guide - three basic rules

Tree planting guide - three basic rules

Choosing the right plant, correct planting procedure and best aftercare are the three basic rules for sucessful tree planting, Sally Drury explains.


Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Viewing top-quality plants, both growing and on sale, always gives me pleasure.

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Welcome to this bumper 72-page July edition of Horticulture Week magazine, packed with exclusive analysis, insight and expert advice on the biggest issues impacting all sectors of the UK horticulture industry right now.

Edwards: Will a weak pound and tariffs on imported stock be good for UK nursery production?

Edwards: Will a weak pound and tariffs on imported stock be good for UK nursery production?

At the time of writing - a few days after the general election - sterling has weakened and we still have no idea of what Brexit means.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles