Product and service showcase

Fresh solutions to production problems can be found among the array of products and services being introduced at the Four Oaks Trade Show, Sally Drury reports.

GreenPower LED: dynamic production modules allow colours to be tuned for crops - image: Phillips Lighting
GreenPower LED: dynamic production modules allow colours to be tuned for crops - image: Phillips Lighting

The Four Oaks Trade Show is the must-attend event if you are a nursery or retailer seeking fresh business ideas or simply needing a solution to a problem. There is a tremendous line-up of new products and services at this year’s show, from LED lighting and irrigation to composts and labels for growers, while garden centre owners should find inspiration in furniture and gift suppliers’ displays.

Opening up new opportunities for floriculture growers to increase quality, shorten growth cycles and move to year-round production, Philips Lighting will be discussing the advantages of GreenPower LED top lighting. Dynamic production modules allow four colours to be tuned and used to grow an ever-changing variety of crops during the year. GreenPower LED flowering lamps are an energy-efficient way to extend daylight for cut flowers, bedding plants and perennials.

TEA Cube: automated transplanter unit - image: Hamilton Designs

Improved automation

If you are looking to improve automation, look for machinery on the Hamilton Designs stand. The company will be displaying its Handy Seeder, Natural Seed and Drum Seeder along with the TEA Cube transplanter.

Having picked up the Horticulture Week best new product award at Four Oaks last year, Modiform will once again be showing its Universal Bedding Packs. Available in four-, six-, nine- or 12-cell formats, and craftily fitting 20 packs to a Danish shelf, the Universal now has an improved slot for the label plus carrier-handle holes.

Showing nurseries and retailers how its irrigation systems can "provide a route map with signposts and milestones", FPL will be offering Florimats to eliminate drudgery and add value, while for strawberry growers the company will explain how biological filtration can eliminate red core, with dramatic consequences for planting costs. "The same technology has now been tested by two overseas universities and found to control and reverse potato blight," says FPL managing director Francis Richardson.

There will be more of interest for strawberry growers on the Fargro stand, where tomato and cucumber growers will also be interested in a new physical-acting bio-insecticide that provides broad-spectrum insect and mite pest control. The FLiPPER product not only protects crops from a wide range of leaf-sucking pests but its leaf-washing action also prevents honeydews and sooty moulds from spreading to the fruit.

What makes FLiPPER different from conventional insecticides is that it comes from a natural and sustainable source. A by-product of extra-virgin olive oil production, it is compatible with beneficial insects and pollinators so it can be used in an integrated pest management programme because it has no harvest interval.

For growers wanting to spray, a battery powered 50-litre trolley sprayer will debut on the Agralan stand. Providing up to 1,300 litres per charge at pressures ranging from one to 10 bar, the A50 sprayer features preset pressure control and built-in agitation.

Halving water bills and reducing the need for plant food is the claim of Dalefoot’s peat-free sheep’s wool/bracken compost. Company owner Simon Bland explains the double saving: "Since we’ve been working closely with professional growers, we’ve realised that the water-saving benefits of our composts are a real selling feature as most nurseries are now on meters and are looking for ways to cut their water usage.

"The hygroscopic qualities of wool mean the compost retains moisture so plants need 50 per cent less watering. You also don’t need to add plant food, as the wood and bracken provide all the nutrients required for healthy plants."

New products from Growmoor Better Growing include a 60-litre Pro Growing Compost along with novel bag designs for 60-litre Organic and 60-litre Rose, Tree & Shrub compost as well as three- and four-plant growing bags.

Fertilisers will feature prominently on the ICL stand, where the company will be celebrating 50 years of Osmocote controlled-release nutrition. "The Osmocote brand continues to evolve thanks to innovative new technologies and an increasing level of applied scientific horticultural knowledge," says ICL marketing communications manager Adam Ferjani.

The extensive Osmocote range covers everything from Osmocote Start — a starter fertiliser for short-term crops — to fourth-generation technology Osmocote Exact Hi.End. Recent innovations, powered by Double Coating Technology (DCT), include Osmocote Exact High K featuring a new analysis with high potassium to reduce elongation and improve compactness.

To help growers manage increasingly erratic rainfall, reduce water usage and guard against plant stress, ICL will also be launching a liquid formulation of H2Gro — described as an efficient and reliable wetting and water conservation agent — with applications for overwintered stock, interior plantscapes and pre-dispatch to extend plant shelf life.

Attend ICL technical manager Andrew Wilson’s Four Oaks seminar to learn more about these and other products new for 2018.

Floramedia: plant marketing specialist - image: Floramedia

Labelling and dispatch will also be highlighted at Four Oaks with plant marketing specialist Floramedia inviting visitors to explore its "Four Worlds" concept of Print, Creativity, Content and Multimedia. The new structure neatly categorises the diverse range of print and digital marketing materials available to growers, seedsmen, garden centres, retailers and product suppliers.

Visit the stand for a first look at Floramedia’s 2017-18 stock catalogue, detailing more than 10,000 off-the-shelf plant labels, point of sale (POS) and other marketing materials, and to discuss bespoke print and packaging creations, photography, digital content and market research.

Trolley wrapped plants can arrive in better condition thanks to a new film launched by Excelerate. Brand new to the UK, Excelair is a breathable, macro-perforated stretch wrap available in a hand version or for semi- and fully-automatic wrapping machines.

Beach Hut: for smartening up displays - image: C Jackson & Son

Logistics solutions

UK-based logistics provider Gronex specialises in horticultural transport for nurseries, trading companies and retailers. It organises collections and delivery in its temperature-controlled vehicles.

Polytunnels are a mainstay for the horticulture industry. Polyhouses.com, a division of Fordingbridge, has offered premium structures for many years. At Four Oaks the company will illustrate how it uses quality-grade, high-tensile Z35 steel and precision aluminium extrusions in the construction of its tunnels.

Need to smarten up your POS displays? C Jackson & Son will be attending the show to offer a complete design-and-build service for independent garden centres, nurseries, wholesalers, distributors and retail chains. 

In addition, the company provides an array of standard display solutions such as the Beach Hut. "This is without a doubt one of our most popular display items," says national account manager Matthew Wood.

"As well as being available in the more traditional styling, it can be supplied in vibrant colours to add a real focal point inside or outside."

What about your web shop? Garden Connect will be asking whether you get the most out of yours. The company will offer to save you time while reaching your targets and growing your business both online and off.

More than 250 garden centres are currently using Garden Connect’s services, including Thirsk Garden Centre and Rochfords Nurseries. Garden Connect marketing director Edwin Meijer points out: "Our services are both effective and affordable, with the key focus on bringing more footfall to your garden centre via the internet." 

Excelair: maintains condition of plants - image: Excelerate

Retail roundup

There will be stacks of pots and planters at the Four Oaks Trade show, including frost-proof, glazed strawberry planters and stunning lead-effect squares and cylinders from Naylor Gardenware.

Newly designed Cretan planters and water features will be shown by The Terracotta Pot Company while Pots of Distinction will be showcasing its Magna Pot, a frost-proof, 80cm-tall, 85cm-diameter handmade natural clay pot.

Teal International will have examples of planters, decorations and giftware (left) from its extensive supplier database.

Chrysal will be showcasing Aquastick, a time-saving system that naturally transfers water to the potted plant from a two- to three-week reservoir in the cover pot.

Bird care is a growing area in garden centres so new entrant to the market Feldyfare will be talking about trials of its tailored foods (left). Founder and managing director Roger Sutton says. "In trials the preference for the new-style Feldy Complete Food Ball is simply stunning and the photographic evidence is to be seen at Four Oaks."

The popularity of using the garden as an extra room of the house is well understood by garden centres. But that room needs furniture. Showing off its portfolio of products for 2018, quality timber furniture trader Zest for Leisure will be displaying the Madison children’s picnic table, Denver arbour swing, Sophie bench, Emily coffee table/bench and more.

Muztag will be at Four Oaks to introduce its stylish outdoor fires (left) designed to be aesthetically pleasing but with an emphasis on functionality.

Green Edge will be highlighting its Lawn Repair Sticks. Comprising clay-starch sticks or plates with grass seed, the product is simply scattered for quick germination and fast infill of bare patches, even on pet urine-damaged patches.

Latest products available for landscapers

There will be a distinct landscape flavour on the Suregreen stand where the company will be meeting professionals to discuss its wide range of low locked-down priced products — all available next working day and with free returns. Products include meshes (pictured above), porous pavers for grass and gravel, weed fabrics, geotextiles, planters, fencing and accessories plus tree-planting items.

There will be a distinct landscape flavour on the Suregreen stand where the company will be meeting professionals to discuss its wide range of low locked-down priced products — all available next working day and with free returns. Products include meshes, porous pavers for grass and gravel, weed fabrics, geotextiles, planters, fencing and accessories plus tree-planting items.


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