Along with Hortlink, don’t forget that Hort Innovation’s nursery grower page is an important source of industry info for levy payers. On it you’ll find:

  • 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 meeting notes from the nursery SIAP, with recent meetings including April 3-4 in Sydney, and June 7, also in Sydney.
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including the July 2016 to March 2017 financial operating statement, and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the 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.



Evaluation of nursery tree stock balance parameters (NY15001)

Status: Completed project

What was 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 has investigated how species differences and climatic conditions in different production regions can affect this balance in tree stock, and has collected a host of data in relation to root-to-shoot balance, via size index, in tree stock across Australia.

Looking at more than 13,800 trees from 23 nurseries, the project revealed that landscape trees have a much greater variation in size index than the current Australian Standard (AS2303:2015 Tree Stock for Landscape Use) allows for. This could mean that people selecting trees are rejecting some that would actually be fit for purpose.

The project results have prompted an application for a revision of the Standard that takes into account the large variety of trees sold and grown in Australia. Updates on this process will be included in industry communication channels as available.

Click here for a fact sheet summarising the project results. Presentations, videos and other information related to this project also continue to be available on the project team’s website.

Full details will also be found in the project’s final report, which will soon be available to order at Final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies.

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: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning late in 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 updated 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? In its initial months, the project has had a focus on using ultra-high-resolution aerial photo maps to identify canopy cover in LGAs. The images were taken from a satellite and span the entire country. Images of random points from within each of Australia’s 139 urban LGAs were then selected, assessed and classed on whether they were showing mostly grass and shrubs, trees, or hard surfaces such as roads, buildings or carparks.

The measure of canopy cover from this analysis will be compared to the previous measure of trees for each LGA, to track the speed of urban greening.

The collection of health and socio-economic data for each LGA is also ongoing, as is the mapping of LGA temperatures in an effort to look at the ‘heat island’ effect. This information will help identify where green space is needed most.

Nursery industry statistics and research 2016/17 (NY16004)

Status: Ongoing 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? The project is still in its early stages, with more detailed updates will be provided in future editions of Hortlink. In the meantime, see this profile on nursery grower Hamish Mitchell in relation to the project, or watch the video profile here. These resources were produced as part of the Communication program for the Australian nursery industry 2015-18 (NY15006).

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. It is also delivering the industry’s Pest Identification Tool ( to make diagnostic identifications more financially viable for production nurseries.

What’s the latest update? Two  live ‘webinars’ were recently delivered as part of the project – one on mite identification and management, and one on virus identification and management.

For those unable to take part in the live sessions, recordings of all webinars held to date by the project are available to watch at any time here.

While no new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1), you can see last edition’s update here – which includes links to various fact sheets, management plans and webinars. These resources can also be accessed from the ‘Resources and downloads’ section of Hort Innovation’s nursery grower page.

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), which is now an entirely nationally governed and administered system that also includes the EcoHort system and the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia, or NIASA, Best Management Practice program.

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. If you missed it, click here to read last edition’s case study on how one Australian nursery is benefiting from the system.

In May, a Nursery Paper produced as part of the Communication program for the Australian nursery industry 2015-18 (NY15006) also detailed the program – including a recent Queensland legislative amendment that will have a positive impact on the accreditation of production nurseries. Download and read the Nursery Paper now.

For more on the program, refer to the last edition of Hortlink’s update here, and look for the latest updates in the next edition.

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 regular 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.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • 202020 Vision Training/Capacity Building Program (NY16002), soon-to-be-completed project that has been responsible for driving awareness of and engagement with the 202020 Vision through national and regional workshops and regular updates provided to growers. As well as events and information appearing in industry communication channels, grower resources relating the 202020 Vision are accessible on the initiative’s Growers’ Hub here.
  • Green industry growing leaders program (MT16002), a new multi-industry project supporting the participation of 15 nursery and turf workers in a three-month, industry-specific leadership education course. Read more in Hort Innovation’s article here. Applications were advertised in key industry channels and closed in early May, with successful candidates notified in mid-May.

Nursery levy investment in strategic partnership projects…

What are ‘strategic partnership’ projects?

Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects with the aim of finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the future of Australian horticulture. These projects 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?

Nursery levy has been co-invested in the following projects…

  • Measuring Australia’s green space assets (GC15004), which is helping quantify, evaluate and promote healthy and climate-resilient green space environments. The project is part of the strategic partnership Green Cities Fund, with more information available here.
  • Developing the business case for green cities (GC15000), a new Green Cities Fund project that will help build the evidence base and tools needed by organisation to make business cases for urban greening.
  • Global Masterclass in Horticultural Business (LP15001), a project that’s part of the Leadership Fund, which you can read more about here. The nursery levy funds three scholarships annually under this project, for industry levy-payers to take part in the Masterclass in Horticultural Business course. Read more on the course and the story of one of its nursery participants in this Nursery Paper, watch a short video on the Masterclass here, and look for future scholarship opportunities to be advertised in industry channels when available.
  • Attracting new entrants into Australian horticulture – promoting careers in horticulture (LP15006), a Leadership Fund project that is engaging graduate students with the horticulture industry. Under the project, businesses can receive funding to host an intern. Learn more in this case study with nursery business Fresh Leaf Herbs, who took part in the project’s pilot run. Businesses interested in hosting an intern are encouraged to learn more by contacting Rimfire Resources at



Hort Innovation’s marketing for the nursery industry is all about the 202020 Vision – a movement to increase urban green space by 20 per cent by the year 2020. The 202020 Vision is a collaborative initiative involving over 400 industries, councils, state and federal government bodies, business, not-for-profits and academic institutes, all working together to increase and improve urban green space.

Its website,, includes detailed information and all resources produced under it for growers, green-space decision-makers, other collaborators and more.

Here’s a snapshot of recent activity under the 202020 Vision…

‘Park It’ guide for communities

Delivered in partnership with The Neighbourhood Project and Co Design Studio, the ‘Park It’ initiative provides a step-by-step video and a guide to help communities turn a grey space into green space. Advice includes how to garner neighbourhood support, create an action plan for the community, how to make getting involved fun and more – and is ultimately about empowering people to make a positive, green change.

The resources are available at

‘How to get people there’ program

From talking with local councils, it’s been identified that if a green space area isn’t being used by a community, it’s more likely to be rezoned for development. So this activity is designed to inspire Australians to go out and enjoy the green spaces available to them. It’s based on showcasing the benefits of green space, as identified by Kylie Legge (a leading ‘placemaking’ consultant, who you can read about here).

Kylie has identified five key dimensions to creating spaces people love:

  • Belonging
  • Wellbeing
  • Inspiration
  • Play
  • Nourishment

To spread the message to Australians to go out and enjoy green space, the 202020 Vision has worked with Time Out magazine to put together an online feature showcasing the 40 top parks in Australia – with those parks being rated on their ability to deliver on the five key benefits above.

Time Out was chosen as the media partner to get out this message as it is national, known for content that influences how people socialise and spend their spare time, and speaks to not only the Australian audience, but also tourists.

My Park Rules competition

As previously reported in Hortlink, in 2016 the My Park Rules competition was run, encouraging school communities across Australia to submit their under-loved park or grey space for a chance to win a $100,000 transformation for a well-designed greener future, including 320 plants and trees. Selected from over 80 entrants, Marrickville Public School in the inner west of Sydney is now the beneficiary of a brand-new space to benefit the whole community. Work commenced on their space on April 10 (pictured below).




Colin Groom firmly believes the little things add up, and he’s constantly looking for new ways to do things better at Domus Nursery, on the outskirts of Perth.

A strong advocate of the need for the industry to strive for constant improvement, Colin said there’s a good financial incentive behind many of the changes encouraged through best management practice schemes.

Domus was started by Colin’s father Brian in 1973, and has grown to a medium-sized nursery with staff numbers up around 30. Growing a wide range of plants from Australian natives to exotic varieties, Domus supplies garden centres, landscapers, government agencies and hardware chains, with Bunnings a very substantial customer.

Since 2001, Domus has been accredited under the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia (NIASA), as well as certified under the environmental module, EcoHort, for the last four years. EcoHort and NIASA were developed by Nursery & Garden Industry Australia in partnership with Hort Innovation, using the nursery R&D levy and funds from the Australian Government.

Good for business, good for the environment 

Colin said sound business management is just as important as growing good plants when it comes to running a successful business.

“I couldn’t put a dollar figure on any one of the benefits from being NIASA accredited, or certified through EcoHort – it’s more about making you think more carefully about everything you do, and being constantly aware of the costs of various practices,” he said.

“For instance, we have recycled our water for many years, which is good environmental practice – but we also wouldn’t have enough water to survive if we didn’t. We moved from an old system that diverted drainage water into a small dam to a new system that pumps this water into a large, enclosed storage tank. This move eliminated the issue of blocked pumps and occurrence of algae which, in turn, resulted in less backflushing of sand filters and less consumption of chlorine.”

Meanwhile, the business is in the middle of a state forest.

“We had Jarrah dieback present around us, and then we decided to grow Australian natives – many of which are susceptible. This meant we had to think very carefully about hygiene so we weren’t circulating pathogens in the water,” Colin said.

“NIASA has helped us look at different water treatment methods, and be aware of new options that come on the market. We’ve previously used liquid sodium hypochlorite, and now we utilise calcium hypochlorite as it’s safer for our plants and staff to handle.  We’re always searching for better options, hence trialing ozone at the moment to pre-treat our recycled water,” he said.

“A lot has changed over the years, and I’d like to think we would have become more sophisticated and better run regardless, but being part of these schemes really pushes you to keep improving all the time.”

Reducing waste is a big focus for the business, as the costs are constantly rising.

“Our used pots are currently being sent to a plastic recycler, which is both good for the environment and good business sense, as it’s cheaper than sending them to landfill.

“We’ve received enquiries from other nurseries about what we’re doing with our pots; I do my best to assist others where possible. Keeping up to date with the latest industry news and information is a great place to start for any nursery looking to adopt new practices.”

Changing practices: moving from cardboard to stillages

Colin has also recently broken with West Australian tradition and started using stillages instead of cardboard boxes to transport plants from the east coast.

“Most nurseries over east use stillages or trolleys anyway, but common practice is to use cardboard boxes for shipments to Western Australia so you don’t have to pay for return freight. However, the Nullarbor isn’t the best environment for plants, and the combination of heat and lack of ventilation was making them sweat and die. On top of that, many were being squashed because the cardboard didn’t provide enough protection from transport companies. We were throwing out enough plants to start looking for alternatives, and the numbers added up to invest in stillages,” Colin said.

“The cost of sending back an empty stillage is about the same as new boxes for each trip. You have the capital cost of buying them on top of that – but we’ve reduced our plant losses by approximately 80 per cent, and reduced labour costs at each end to pack and unpack the plants, so we’re way in front.”

Lessons learnt

Colin said some of the benefits of going through the NIASA and EcoHort programs aren’t immediately obvious, but they’re definitely there.

“It comes back to trying to ensure optimum growing conditions at every stage of the process – quality growing media, correct fertiliser, suitable growing areas, and clean water – to produce a quality product in the end. The programs provide our staff with a best practice framework to operate within, and these improvements have flowed through to many areas of the business,” he said.

“In many ways it’s an insurance policy, because you’re monitoring and managing everything more carefully and therefore more likely to pick up problems before they become major.”


This profile is a case study produced under Hort Innovation project Communication program for the Australian nursery industry 2015-18 (NY15006), described in the project summaries above.

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