P&PDL Picture of the Week for
August 19, 2013

One size fits all in nursery production?

Kyle Daniel, Nursery and Landscape Outreach Specialist, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

In most specialty crops, such as ornamental production, the need for manual labor is much higher than major agricultural crops. The issue and concern of labor is a constant conversation with those in the Green Industry. There are several reasons for the lack of labor, but it is mostly attributed to two variables. Between the lack of interest in manual labor in younger generations and the increasingly difficult policies of the H-2A and H-2B U.S. Visa programs, the amount of available laborers is at the lowest levels in many years. To combat the decreasing pool of laborers, growers must develop innovative and efficient methodologies to continue profitable businesses.

Specialty crops require more labor because of the lack of mechanization for many processes required for production. Mechanization is difficult due to several factors, including the many different sizes, shapes, etc. of the crops (Fig. 1). Mechanization is usually adapted from more traditional agricultural equipment to meet the needs of the crop the nursery is producing (Fig. 2). There are some machines manufactured that are suited to specialty crops and are available commercially (Fig. 3). Weed control is usually an issue at all nurseries, and specially engineered machines are especially important for this task (Fig. 4). One thing that nurserymen have in common is the innovation and improvisation of various types of equipment to effectively and efficiently produce their crops.

For more information about nursery equipment contact Kyle Daniel at daniel38@purdue.edu.



Click image to enlarge

Figure 1. Assortment of seeds (walnut, red oak, sweet gum, hawthorn, and others) demonstrating the variations in the size and shape of seeds that cause different methodologies for planting.

Figure 2. Two types of planters that have been re-engineered to fit the sizes and shapes of the seeds used in the nursery

Figure 3. A machine utilized in a water restoration nursery and at job sites.

Figure 4. A front-end loader on a tractor fitted with pvc pipe for applying herbicides.

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service