Nursery innovations from the Netherlands wow delegates

Editor of nursery stock magazine De Boomkwekerij, Arno Engels, wowed the audience at Contact 09 with the latest innovations employed in Dutch nurseries.

They include a specialist in climbers who uses benches above the dispatch area to maximise space and create cool working conditions in summer, a conifer grower who has built a glasshouse with a fully retractable roof and tractors running on GPS devices.

"Every tree gets a GPS co-ordinate so when you need to go back to a particular tree it's easy - and information such as the planting date is recorded," Engels told delegates.

Other machines described included one that can trim up to 5,000 Buxus plants per hour at night using infrared, and a rootballer that can dig up three rows of conifers at a time.

Novel methods of packaging were also on display, including a plastic wrapper for Forsythia that aimed to promote the plant in its bare-stemmed form, using yellow designs printed on the wrapper around the top of the stems.

Commenting on the state of the Dutch market, Engels said efforts to get growers to work together are improving. "The new generation is more open, and growers are getting better at talking to each other, through study groups and exchange experiences," he said.

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