Plant health pays off for Pohlmans Nursery

Plant health pays off for Pohlmans Nursery

When Australian production nursery, Pohlmans, first looked at ways to improve its pest, disease and weed management, it never expected the results would include a saving of $350,000 per year.

As a large, independently owned business employing more than 200 staff, Pohlmans produces over 1,200 different plant species across 150 acres in the fertile Lockyer Valley, Queensland, Australia.

In light of International Year of Plant Health, Pohlmans is an example of how a production nursery took control of its plant health and biosecurity responsibilities and turned it into financial gain.

It’s been achieved through BioSecure HACCP*, a high health plant protection and biosecurity program that helps growers to better manage endemic and exotic pests, disease and weed risks on-farm.

BioSecure HACCP has enabled Pohlmans to establish an internal quarantine process for imported and exported plant material, underpinned by reliable plant data to support decision-making.

According to Pohlmans’ Growing & Production Manager, Chris Johnson, by adopting the BioSecure HACCP risk management approach, they have halved pesticide usage and reduced stock losses by more than 2%, whilst maintaining a system that supports the safe trade of plants.

 Chris Johnson at Pohlmans Nursery. Photo: Sophie Keatinge, Cox Inall Communications

Chris Johnson at Pohlmans Nursery. Photo: Sophie Keatinge, Cox Inall Communications

“Our philosophy is to eliminate it, before it becomes a problem. Efforts to improve plant health start from the moment a plant is introduced into the production line,” Mr Johnson said.

“Every plant that arrives at Pohlmans goes through quarantine and is treated away from the production facility. Anything deemed poor quality or untreatable is sent back to the supplier.

“Once a plant is deemed healthy and introduced into the nursery, it is monitored frequently by our highly trained staff, which allows us to be proactive and limit any spread or build-up of pests.

“The result is a dramatic reduction in pesticide use and cost, spraying only specific crop areas, rather than an entire hothouse – it’s sustainable and profitable.”

Mr Johnson said BioSecure HACCP transitioned the nursery from paper records to an online data system, reducing costs and human error, as well as providing greater flexibility for self-certification.

“Our staff now use smartphones and tablets to monitor and survey crops. It’s led to greater staff engagement and a team far more likely to communicate and act as soon as an issue is detected.”

Programs like BioSecure HACCP have revolutionised how Australian production nurseries carry out the trade of plants and minimise the spread of pests, disease and weeds.

It is this vision from industry, backed by growers, which brings the protection of plants to life – today, tomorrow and for the next generation to come.

 Plants with labels at Pohlmans Nursery. Photo: Sophie Keatinge, Cox Inall Communications

Plants with labels at Pohlmans Nursery. Photo: Sophie Keatinge, Cox Inall Communications

* The BioSecure HACCP on-farm biosecurity program was developed by Nursery & Garden Industry Australia with funding through Hort Innovation, and continues to be supported by the industry levy through the Hort Innovation Nursery Fund.

Author: Cox Inall Communications, Sydney, Sophie Keatinge on 0430 938 515 or [email protected]