Hort Innovation continues to invest the nursery R&D levy in a range of key projects for the industry. In the R&D snapshot below, read all about these initiatives, which range from work to strengthen the industry’s biosecurity and grow pest and disease resources for growers, to research that will help grow demand for green space and identify priority local government areas for tree planting. To see how the industry’s marketing levy is being put to use in 202020 Vision activity, head to the marketing snapshot.


After you’ve read about the nursery industry’s current levy investments and outcomes in this edition of Hortlink, check out Hort Innovation’s nursery grower page. The grower page remains your one-stop-shop for industry information, including:

  • Important updates regarding the nursery Strategic Investment Plan (SIP), as available. Developed in close consultation with growers and other industry stakeholders, the SIP is a document outlining the priorities for strategic investment in the industry. It is to be used like a ‘roadmap’ by the nursery Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest updates regarding the nursery SIAP, including details on the panel’s recently appointed chair, Michael Worthington, and summaries from all SIAP meetings to date. The SIAP last met during November 2016, and is due to meet again during March.
  • The 2015/16 nursery industry annual report, detailing activities from the previous financial year.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the nursery industry.

Any questions?

As well as the nursery grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Management Lead John Vatikiotis is always available to answer questions on the nursery program on 0429 022 637 or at For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Claire Tindale-Penning, who has recently been appointed to the industry.



Where should all the trees go? An investigation of the impact of tree canopy cover on socio-economic status and wellbeing in LGAs (NY16005)

Status: New project

What’s it all about? Beginning at the end of 2016, this project seeks to measure the impact of tree canopy cover on socio-economic status and wellbeing in Australian local government areas (LGAs). It will provide an estimate of canopy cover across all metropolitan LGAs, and examine relationships between this cover and socio-economic, health and wellbeing indicators. In its course, it will identify areas for priority canopy-cover planting and support the nursery in achieving the goals set out by the 202020 Vision.

What’s the latest update? As this project is only just beginning, a more detailed update will be provided in future editions of Hortlink.

Nursery industry statistics and research 2016/17 (NY16004)

Status: New project

What’s it all about? Beginning in January this year, this project will collect industry statistics to allow nursery growers and the broader industry to make timely and effective decisions in planning and resource prioritisation, as well as track market trends and industry performance over time.

What’s the latest update? As this project is only just beginning, more detailed updates will be provided in future editions of Hortlink.

Building the resilience and on-farm biosecurity capacity of the Australian production nursery industry (NY15002)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project aims to enhance the biosecurity preparedness of the Australian nursery industry. It builds on earlier project Plant health, biosecurity, risk management and capacity building for the nursery industry (NY11001) and is developing new contingency plans, producing new and updated information, and is delivering the industry’s Pest Identification Tool ( to make diagnostic identifications more financially viable for production nurseries.

What’s the latest update? Since the project began, outputs have included:

  • Ongoing maintenance and updating of the Pest Identification Tool, with 35 new pages added with detailed descriptions of pest and disease biology, spread and management. Over 90 pages have also been updated, and almost 90 new images of pests and diseases provided for uploading
  • Workshops across the country, with the final workshops in 2016 held in New South Wales and Tasmania during November. The theme of the 2016 workshops was integrated pest management and crop monitoring, and they included practical exercises and farm walks
  • Four webinars, with the videos remaining available on YouTube. Topics included insect pests versus benficials (watch here), insects and pesticides (watch here), fungal versus bacterial leaf spots (watch here) and leaf spots and fungicides (watch here).

Two industry contingency plans have also been prepared: a new plan on brown marmorated stink bug and an updated plan for Pierce’s disease. These plans are currently with Plant Health Australia for review and during 2017, and there will be a revision of the industry’s glassy-winged sharp shooter contingency plan. Further plans are scheduled to be rolled out/updated till the project’s end in 2020.

Also under the project, over 200 diagnostic samples have been received and analysed by pest and disease diagnostic service Grow Help Australia, with diagnostic reports provided to production nursery businesses.

National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program (NY15004)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? The National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program aims to ensure production nurseries in Australia are aware of and prepared for incursions of exotic plant pests, and that they have effective market access mechanisms in place to maintain business functionality.

Beginning in 2016, a key part of the project is the industry on-farm biosecurity program BioSecure HACCP, to underpin national market access with electronic certification. BioSecure HACCP assists growers in assessing pest, disease and weed risks and supports the implementation of management strategies within businesses. It is one program under the Nursery Production Farm Management System (Nursery Production FMS).

What’s the latest update? The project continues to develop BioSecure HACCP as a national market access system, and to carry out broader biosecurity-related activities for the industry. There has been…

  • The completion of the transition of the Nursery Production FMS to an entirely nationally governed and administered system (as well as BioSecure HACCP, the FMS includes the EcoHort system and the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia, or NIASA, Best Management Practice program).
  • Continued dialogue between the National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program and state and territory biosecurity agencies, resulting in Victoria and Queensland now legally recognising BioSecure HACCP Certified businesses and BioSecure HACCP Biosecurity Certificates for market access. At the time of last reporting to Hort Innovation, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales were soon to follow.
  • A review of and republishing of the BioSecure HACCP Manual, as well as the NIASA Manual, both of which are available from the Nursery & Garden Industry Australia website here or from the Nursery Production FMS website here.
  • Upgrading of web-based electronic platforms the Audit Management System (AMS) and the National Audit Portal (NAP), used in the Nursery Production FMS’s management and auditing programs. This will allow the progression of BioSecure HACCP as a market-access tool.
  • Close collaboration with project NY15002 (detailed above), with industry workshops through that project helping to bring National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program messaging and biosecurity awareness to the industry.
  • Work established with Plant Health Australia, which will deliver a range of biosecurity procedural videos for the industry.

Read more on BioSecure HACCP and the Nursery Production FMS here.

Communication program for the Australian nursery industry 2015-18 (NY15006)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? The industry’s communication program ensures Australian nursery and garden growers and other industry stakeholders are kept up-to-date with the latest news, information and R&D and marketing updates to support decision-making within businesses.

This program is supported by the project NGIA – communications support on NY15006 – nursery industry communications (NY15009), which provides funding to Nursery & Garden Industry Australia to facilitate work with the communication program’s external service provider.

What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:

  • Regular Nursery Papers looking at current industry projects, with all issues accessible here
  • The Your Levy @ Work newsletter
  • The Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) website and the Your Levy @ Work website
  • NGIA social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Media releases, the production of case studies for peer-to-peer learning and video content also form part of the communication program.

The project is also developing an ‘Entrants’ Kit’ with information for new industry members.

Evaluation of nursery tree stock balance parameters (NY15001)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Ensuring out-planted nursery trees have a high potential survival rate requires a balanced root and shoot system prior to dispatch. This project, due for completion later this year, is investigating how species differences and climatic conditions in different production regions can affect this balance in tree stock.

By bringing together existing knowledge on root-to-shoot balance and quantifying this balance in tree stock across the country, the project aims to develop metrics for the industry to use in assessing the quality of tree stock for landscape planting. It is anticipated that the tree stock balance data will also be used to inform a revision of the current Australian Standard for tree stock for landscape use.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Spring 2016). At the time of last reporting, research trials to quantify root-to-shoot balance of nursery tree stock were well underway, with over 6000 trees measured across eight production nurseries in New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory.

From the preliminary findings, the researchers noted a need for greater field-based evidence to determine the relationship between a tree’s size index and its container volume.

At the time of last reporting, they noted that the current Australian Standard specifies a range of size index values for tree stock in different container volumes at dispatch in order to quantify above- and below-ground balance of advanced tree stock for landscape use. The project’s current findings suggested the specified size index likely does not encompass the inherent variation within and among tree stock across Australian production nurseries.

A draft review of scientific and trade literature around root-to-shoot balance had also been completed.

Presentations, factsheets and other information related to this project continue to be available here.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • 202020 Vision Training/Capacity Building Program (NY16002), an ongoing project to drive awareness of and engagement with the 202020 Vision through national and regional workshops and regular updates provided to growers. In 2016 the inaugural 202020 Vision training and capacity building forum was held in August, engaging industry stakeholders including state associations and extension representatives with the 202020 Vision program. Another event is planned for March this year.The project also facilitated a 202020 Vision update for growers and other industry stakeholders in Melbourne during December.As well as events and the information appearing in industry communication channels, grower resources relating the 202020 Vision are accessible on the initiative’s Growers’ Hub here. These include presentations and branding assets, as well as guides.
Nursery levy investment in strategic co-investment projects…

What are ‘strategic co-investment’ projects?

Hort Innovation’s strategic co-investment initiative is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects. These projects endeavour to solve major and often complex challenges crucial to securing the future of Australian horticulture. They are funded via a combination of Australian Government investments (at least $20 million annually) and co-investments that are brokered and managed by Hort Innovation (including from research institutes, commercial partners, individual levy industries and more).

How is the nursery industry involved?

The nursery industry has co-invested levy funds in the project Measuring Australia’s green space assets (GC15004), which will help quantify, evaluate and promote healthy and climate-resilient green space environments. It will address two key research questions: ‘What existing tools and methods are available around the world for mapping, monitoring and reporting on urban green space?’ And,  ‘Are these tools suitable for application in Australia, and what modifications would be required?’ The project is part of the strategic co-investment Green Cities Fund, with more information available here.

The industry is also a co-invester in the Global Masterclass in Horticultural Business (LP15001) project. This project is part of the strategic co-investment Leadership Fund, which you can read more about here. Through the project, the nursery levy investment supports three nursery industry scholarships for the Masterclass in Horticultural Business course.

For a good overview, watch Hort Innovation’s new video on the Masterclass in Horticultural Business below:

The Masterclass is delivered with world-leading agriculture university Wageningen Academy in the Netherlands, renowned university Lincoln in New Zealand, and key provider the University of Tasmania. The course is the first of its kind in Australia and dedicated to supporting business skills and personal development for growers and other horticulture industry participants. Key areas covered include:

  • Horticultural management
  • People and culture
  • Supply chain management and logistics
  • Financial management and law
  • Horticultural marketing and communication
  • Global trends and international business
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Business development and strategy.

The 2017 course began in February this year and will run for 10 months, with online training and three face-to-face sessions.

Opportunities for 2018 scholarship applications will be announced through industry and Hort Innovation channels in the future.

nursery group

Nursery scholarship recipients in the Masterclass in Horticultural Business initiative



Marketing for the nursery industry is all about the 202020 Vision, the collaborative program to drive a 20 per cent increase in green space in urban areas by the year 2020. The program has a dedicated website,, which includes detailed information about the 202020 Vision and all resources produced under it for growers, green-space decision-makers, other collaborators and more.

In the last edition of Hortlink, it was revealed the 202020 Vision was a finalist in the highly-regarded Banksia Sustainability Awards, within the Sustainable Cities category. In December 2016, the 202020 Vision was announced as the winner. The Banksia Foundation raises the profile of sustainability issues facing Australia, and recognises those whose initiatives are an encouragement and an example for others to follow. The Sustainable Cities Award recognises the role of 202020 Vision in helping cities adapt, grow and thrive sustainably in a changing environment.

Other updates since the last edition of Hortlink include:

  • Work is progressing towards the building of a new playground for Marrickville Public School in New South Wales, as part of the consumer-focusing 202020 Vision campaign. The school was the 2016 winner of the My Park Rules competition run by the 202020 Vision and long-term partner and advocate the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), raising the profile of the importance of parks and green play areas in local communities. Construction will begin in mid-April, with green space to replace existing asphalt and provide an inner-city refuge for students. View the school’s entry on the My Park Rules website here.
  • A new resource – the 202020 Vision How to Green Your School Guide – will be released upon completion of the Marrickville Public School green space. The guide will be developed in partnership with AILA to help schools from all over Australia access more plants and trees.
  • There is the continued distribution of the new and improved 202020 Vision e-newsletter, which launched in October last year. Sign up to the newsletter at the bottom of the 202020 Vision website. It includes a first-of-its-kinds ‘Ask Us’ service, via a Q&A section, and features green space project updates, the latest urban-green-space stories from around the world and more.

Throughout the 202020 Vision program, a number of how-to guides have been produced and continue to be available. They provide practical, easy-to-understand tips and processes to help get more plants and trees in the ground. For example, the How to Grow an Urban Forest workbook, released in 2015, remains a catalyst in getting local councils around Australia to implement Urban Forest Strategies that include canopy targets.

Building on the success of past guides, four new guides are soon to be released:

  • How to Create a Community Action Plan
  • How to Get Your Park Approved (in partnership with CoDesign Studio)
  • How to Speak Engineer
  • How to Get People There (in partnership with Place Partners).



When Pohlmans Nursery first started looking at ways to improve pest, disease and weed management, they never expected the results would include a saving of around $350,000 per year on day-to-day operations.

Pohlmans are the largest independently-owned plant producer and production nursery in the South Hemisphere. They cover 150 acres in the fertile Lockyer Valley – with 50 acres of intensive state-of-the-art production facilities – and produce over 1200 different species.

Having worked their way up to certification under the industry’s on-farm biosecurity program, BioSecure HACCP, Pohlmans are also helping to revolutionise the way production nurseries carry out interstate trade. Pohlmans have made additional savings in excess of $110,000 per year by eliminating external biosecurity inspections, as well as reducing internal administration costs.

Why BioSecure HACCP?

BioSecure HACCP is a set of protocols and procedures applied at farm level that enable a business to manage endemic and exotic pest, disease and weed risks. The system (run under levy project NY15004, described above) is designed to establish an effective internal quarantine process for both imported and exported plant material, using structured procedures and modern data recording programs to support the decision-making process.

According to Pohlmans’ Growing and Production Manager Chris Johnson, by adopting this risk-management approach they’ve cut the throw-out rate by around two per cent, halved pesticide usage, and improved overall pest, disease and weed management while reducing associated labour costs.

“Our motto is ‘eliminate it before it becomes a problem’, and the high health approach starts from the very moment a plant is introduced into the production line,” Chris said.

“Every product that arrives at Pohlmans goes through a quarantine area, where it’s treated away from the production facility. We have boom gates around the production nursery so only authorised vehicles can enter, and all other vehicles and contractors must have vehicles physically inspected.

“Once offloaded, all deliveries are physically inspected and checked off against the invoice.

“A phytosanitary report is completed for every product, and anything deemed poor quality or untreatable is either sent back to the supplier or dumped in industrial bins outside our quarantined production area, and a credit note raised with our supplier.”

BioSecure HACCP is part of every stage of the plant life cycle. Once a plant is deemed healthy and introduced to the production nursery, it is monitored frequently.

“By having highly trained staff responsible for the weekly monitoring of our crops, we can detect any changes in plant health. This enables us to be proactive in the management of our crops, and with regular site surveillance, limits any build-up of pests,” Chris said.

“A direct result is being able to limit pesticide spraying. We can target certain crops with particular problems at the right time, rather than spray an entire hothouse. We can pinpoint which plants are at-risk early on, and gain better results with targeted applications.”

More benefits to business

Practices like these were at the heart of a six-month trial program in Queensland and Victoria, resulting in BioSecure HACCP being recognised by all Australian states and territories as an acceptable alternative to state biosecurity agencies inspecting consignments before plants are traded interstate.

As part of the six-month trial, Pohlmans issued their own plant health certificates to clients using an Australian-first, online biosecurity verification and certification system. The success of the trial has allowed other BioSecure HACCP certified production nurseries to do the same.

Using the online data management system provides efficiencies in administration, lowers costs, and offers much greater flexibility when it comes to plant movements through self-certification of consignments that meet interstate entry conditions for nursery stock.

Chris said becoming BioSecure HACCP certified has proved beneficial in many ways.

“We ran the requirements past our existing procedures and determined what we needed to change – which was mostly our record keeping and how to ensure consistent application of critical procedures that support our integrated crop management system.

“We had to create a range of additional documentation to comply, which was made easier by utilising the BioSecure HACCP templates. To further improve efficiencies we purchased smart phones and tablets as part of the new monitoring and surveillance regime,” Chris said.

“Making the changes to the process of undertaking regular monitoring was relatively painless. It has modernised our internal systems, which has helped us to better identify pests and diseases, and better manage weeds and quality-related issues. In fact, now that we are BioSecure HACCP certified, our people are more invested in the business at each step of the production process,” said Chris.

Want to know more?

BioSecure HACCP has been developed and continues to be run under the National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program (NY15004). The project is funded by Hort Innovation using the nursery R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government. It is run by Nursery & Garden Industry Australia.

To learn how your nursery business can become BioSecure HACCP accredited, click here or email


This profile is a case study produced for Nursery & Garden Industry Australia under Hort Innovation project ‘Communication program for the Australian nursery industry 2015-18’ (NY15006), described in the project summaries above. Visit the NGIA website for more.

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