See how the nursery levy is hard at work! Scroll down to learn about Hort Innovation’s current investment of the industry levy, and results from these investments, in the R&D and marketing snapshots – or click on a project name below to go straight to a specific update. Also look for the ‘ACT NOW’ tag to easily identify project resources ready to use.

All projects are funded by Hort Innovation using the nursery R&D or marketing levy and, in the case of R&D, contributions from the Australian Government.


Don’t forget to grab the Nursery Fund Annual Report

Released at the start of November, Hort Innovation’s Nursery Fund Annual Report sums up all levy investments and activities from 2016/17. You can download a copy here, or head to Hort Innovation’s Annual Report Portal to place an order for a free hard copy of the report.

What research do you want to see?

As always, Hort Innovation encourages all growers and industry participants to share their thoughts and ideas for the research they want to see – whether that’s within the industry-specific Nursery Fund (where research is funded by grower levies and Australian Government contributions), or within Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, Hort Frontiers (where research is funded through partnerships with co-investors).

Watch this video to see how ideas are collected and grown into projects, then submit your suggestions for new projects here.

Get closer to your investments with free membership

Hort Innovation membership brings you closer to the investment activities and results in your levy fund, and to the organisation as a whole. As well as providing the opportunity for voting rights at the company’s Annual General Meeting, membership helps you connect with your industry’s Relationship Manager, sends Hortlink straight to your inbox for first-look access, provides exclusive Grower Intel alerts with industry-specific news and opportunities, and more.

Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a member, so read more here and sign up now!

Find resources on the Hort Innovation Nursery Fund page…

Along with Hortlink, Hort Innovation’s webpage for nursery levy payers is a great source of info. On it you’ll find:

  • Key documents including the Nursery Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released earlier in 2017, and the Nursery Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the nursery Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met across October 18 and 19, 2017 in Sydney, and is due to meet again during February 2018
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including operating statements and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.
Any questions?

Hort Innovation Relationship Management Lead John Vatikiotis is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Nursery Fund program. He can be reached on 0429 022 637 or at



Nursery industry statistics and research 2016/17

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: Nursery & Garden Industry Australia

What was it all about? This project was tasked with collecting a range of data related to the volume and value of nursery production – bringing together key 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. (Produced early in the project’s run, watch this video with nursery grower Hamish Mitchell for a quick overview of the investment’s aims.)

At the time of writing, the industry stats report was being finalised. It will shortly be made available in industry channels including on the Hort Innovation Nursery Fund page.

RD&E program for control, eradication and preparedness for vegetable leafminer

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Cesar, in conjunction with others

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2017 for and funded by the nursery and vegetable industries, this project is set to bolster preparedness for and protection against the potential spread of vegetable leafminer (Liriomyza sativae) through Australian growing regions. The pest is capable of infesting a broad range of crops, and was first detected on the country’s mainland in 2015, in a backyard garden in the Cape York Peninsula community of Seisia.

Specific project activities include developing information and resources for monitoring, managing and eradicating leafminer; identifying and modelling the spread of the pest; reviewing and looking at accessibility of chemical and biological control options; and generally increasing awareness and understanding of vegetable leafminer in the relevant industries.

What’s the latest update? Back in July, the project team undertook their first field surveys for vegetable leafminer, on Thursday Island and the Northern Peninsula Area in Far North Queensland. This work identified two new host plant species for the pest, and resulted in the collection of larvae, pupae and adults from a range of commercial and non-commercial hosts for use in lab work. Preparation for 2018 field surveys is now underway.

The researchers have also been looking at pest monitoring methods from around the world, including the use of yellow sticky traps, pupa pan trapping, visual surveys and the use of plant volatiles as lures. The team has noted that many surveillance techniques rely on the development of rapid and efficient methods for processing and screening bulk samples for traces of the target species, and work is being conducted to this end – with the team beginning to develop molecular identification methods for vegetable leafminer. They are also looking at the ability to detect the pest from DNA left behind in mine damage on plants.

The project is also…

  • Developing a leafminer establishment model, with the team looking at factors and conditions influencing incursion risk and where the species is next likely to occur, to more effectively and efficiently deliver management responses.
  • Reviewing biological control options, using existing research from Australia and internationally to identify key parasitoid species that could be involved in the control of vegetable leafminer in both open-air crops and glasshouses, as part of an integrated pest management approach. Other biological control components being used or researched overseas, including the use of beneficial fungi and sterile insect technology, are also being reviewed.
  • Looking at chemical control options, bringing together information in preparation for applications for appropriate permits.


If you missed it in other channels, download this project awareness flyer for a quick project summary. You can also see a project overview – including key info on vegetable leafminer – in the article from p12 in the November/December 2017 edition of Vegetables Australia magazine.

Green industry growing leaders program

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Right Mind

What’s it all about? This multi-industry leadership-building project runs and supports the participation of nursery and turf workers in an industry-specific leadership education course. The program, conducted online and through face-to-face sessions, is designed to help participants define their leadership style; manage conflict and shape team culture; communicate effectively and more.


It’s time to apply! The program is currently taking expressions of interest for the 2018 intake. Email The Right Mind to register your interest here and visit the program’s website for more.

You can also learn about the experiences of participants in the program and the benefits to their businesses, including this case study with Hayley Whitehorn from Poplar Grove Wholesale Nursery, featured in the last Hortlink, and this article on Andrew Creighton from Alpine Nurseries. Both pieces were written during the course of the 2017 program.

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

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

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 and producing new and updated information growers.

What’s the latest update? Key project activities continue to include…

  • Production of content and imagery for the industry’s Pest Identification Tool (, to make diagnostic identifications more financially viable for production nurseries.
  • Delivery of webinars as well as workshops in all states and territories, with the 2017 workshop series focusing on steps nursery managers can take to diagnose unknown plant health problems.
  • Development and updating of grower resources including pest management plans, fact sheets and contingency plans (check out the ‘act now’ section below).
  • Diagnostics, with samples submitted for analysis by pest and disease diagnostic service Grow Help Australia.


There are plenty of project resources to access and implement…

Keep an eye out for other resources currently in production, including a fact sheet on fungal leaf spots, plus a management plan galling insects. Pest management plans can be found on the industry website here, while fact sheets produced by past and current projects can be found here.

National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Nursery & Garden Industry Australia

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? As per the last edition of Hortlink, the project continues to develop BioSecure HACCP as a national market access system, and to carry out broader biosecurity-related activities for the industry, including meeting industry obligations under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD), particularly with the detected incursion of tomato potato psyllid in Western Australia in 2017. It also continues to maintain the industry’s minor use permit program as needed.


In case you missed these resources from the last edition of Hortlink…

  • Download this Nursery Paper on project NY15004 – published back in May 2017 under the levy-funded communications project, it provides a detailed overview of the program, including recent legislative amendments in Queensland that will have a positive impact on production nursery accreditation
Communication program for the Australian nursery industry 2015-18

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Cox Inall Communications

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:

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 has also been developing an ‘Entrants’ Kit’ with information for new industry members.


Check out the regular project outputs above, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to Your Levy @ Work emails here.

202020 Vision training/capacity building program

Status: New program

Key research provider: Republic of Everyone

What’s it all about? Beginning in October, this new program carries on from the industry’s previous 202020 Vision training initiative (project NY16002). Like its predecessor, it is responsible for driving awareness of and engagement with 202020 Vision activities and resources through national and regional workshops and regular updates provided to growers and other industry stakeholders.

What’s the latest update? Most recently, the program delivered a series of eight workshops across the country relating to the 202020 Vision’s first consumer-facing campaign, Plant Life Balance (see the marketing snapshot for more on the campaign). The educational workshops were attended by more than 110 retail nurseries, with businesses provided an overview of the campaign and its messages, the levy-funded research on plant health benefits that is behind it, and how to get involved.

The program also continues to deliver e-newsletters with 202020 Vision updates, as well as regular spreads on the initiative in Hort Journal issues.


As well as events and information appearing in industry communication channels, grower resources relating the 202020 Vision remain accessible on the initiative’s Growers’ Hub here. You can also sign up to the grower-specific ‘How’s it growing?’ e-newsletters at the bottom of this page.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • Integrating plant life into building and infrastructure rating tools (NY16007), which involves measuring the benefits of vegetation in the built environment. The end goal is to provide scientific evidence to the Green Building Council of Australia and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia to underpin the development of ‘credits’ in their rating tools relating to the integration of plants in the buildings and infrastructure. The rating tools are the Infrastructure Sustainability Rating Tool and Green Star ratings. Look for updates in future editions of Hortlink.
  • Evaluation of nursery tree stock balance parameters (NY15001). This project originally ran from mid-2015 to April 2017, looking at how species differences and climatic conditions in different production regions can affect the root-to-shoot balance in tree stock. In an earlier edition of Hortlink it was reported as a completed research initiative, with its results published in this fact sheet. The research has since been extended to allow the delivery of an industry engagement program that will communicate the research findings back to growers and help the adoption of the relatively new nationwide quality assessment standard for nursery-grown trees for landscape use. This will involve the development of grower-friendly guidelines around the current industry standard for tree stock for landscape use and the project’s new information on tree stick balance, as well as workshops and presentations. With the original work prompting an application for a revision of the standard that takes into account the large variety of trees sold and grown in Australia, the project team will also feed information into any potential updates of the standard.
  • A review of diagnostic technologies to benefit the Australian nursery industry (NY16003), a new project contracted in October to identify smart surveillance tools for detecting endemic and exotic pets of relevance to the Australian nursery industry, in both lab and point-of-care settings. Look for updates in Hortlink as the project progresses.
  • Nursery industry conference partnership (NY17001), which is supporting the communication of levy-related activities to growers at the 2018 Nursery Garden Industry National Conference & Exhibition, to be held in Hobart from February 19-21, 2018. See here for more on the conference. 
Nursery levy investment in Hort Frontiers projects…

What is Hort Frontiers?

Hort Frontiers is Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, formerly known as ‘Pool 2’. It is responsible for developing collaborative cross-industry projects that endeavour to solve major and often complex challenges crucial to securing the future of Australian horticulture. Hort Frontiers projects are funded via a combination of Australian Government funding and co-investments brokered and managed by Hort Innovation. Co-investors range from research institutes to commercial partners, and can also include individual levy industries.

How is the nursery industry involved?

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

  • Attracting new entrants into Australian horticulture – promoting careers in horticulture (LP15006), a Leadership Fund project that is engaging graduate students with the horticulture industry. It has a two-phase approach designed to attract the right people, retain them and support their ongoing leadership development. The first phase involves students undertaking internships within horticulture business, for which funding support is offered for both the student and the business. The second phase involves employment of students following graduation, with Hort Innovation co-investing to support the first year salary and participation in a five-day leadership program. Learn more in this case study with nursery business Fresh Leaf Herbs, who took part in the project’s pilot run. Alpine Nurseries and Speedy Seedlings recently had students commence summer internships as part of the program. The students will be completing these internships over the university summer holidays, with a view to commencing graduate roles at the end of 2018. If you’d like to learn more about how your own business can participate in the program, contact Rimfire Resources at or on 1300 380 701, and read more here. If you know a student who would like to apply for the program, they can do so at
  • Developing the business case for green cities (GC15000), a project that is part of the Hort Frontiers Green Cities Fund that will help build the evidence base needed by organisations to make business cases for urban greening. Due to conclude in early 2018, look for updates in future editions of Hortlink.



Hort Innovation’s investment of the nursery marketing levy, through the Hort Innovation Nursery Fund, is all about the 202020 Vision – the movement to increase urban green space by 20 per cent by the year 2020.

As always, the 202020 Vision has been hard at work to maximise the exposure of the industry, enlisting a range of tools including press, print and public relations – and this edition of Hortlink, we put the spotlight on the latest and exciting consumer-facing activities of the initiative.

Plant Life Balance

On October 30, the newly refreshed and revised ‘Plant Life Balance’ campaign was launched across Australia. The objective of this campaign is to get more Australians to buy green life for their homes, both indoors and out.

Consumers are being targeted through fashion and styling ideas for homes, combined with the science explaining the two fundamental benefits of plants: improved air quality and wellbeing.

This campaign uses technology and social media to connect with a target audience of women aged between 25 and 35 years, to help build their confidence and inspire them to get more ‘plant life balance’ in their lives.

Curated by The Plant Hunter, seven style looks and ‘plant pallets’ have been designed to inspire and motivate increased greening in small spaces.

One of the key platforms to communicate the health benefits and inspire creativity with plants is the new Plant Life Balance app (with the science behind it developed by the R&D component of the Nursery Fund program). Like a ‘try before you buy’ experience, the app allows users to take a photo of their space and then rates the health of it. Users can then drag and drop plants into the space and instantly see the health and wellbeing benefits of adding more greenery.

This app is the first of its kind in the world and is achieving great results – at the time of writing, there had been more than 21,000 downloads since the launch on October 30.

Watch a quick video on the app here, and find it in the app store on your smartphone (it’s available for both Android and iOS). You can also see the consumer-facing Plant Life Balance website here.

Essential to the success of this program is the engagement with and promotion of the campaign by retail nurseries. Nine retailer training events were held around the country through July and August 2017, letting businesses know about the details of the campaign and the elements to bring it to life.

For in-store promotion, branded point-of-sale kits have been created which include bunting, plant tags, shelf wobblers, posters, staff badges and ‘cheat sheets’ for the sales staff. These are free to any retail nursery who wants to get behind the campaign, with 96 retailers around the country having snapped up these kits and begun using them in their businesses so far.

As at early November, 110 stories about Plant Life Balance had been featured across a range of media channels including print, online, social, radio and media partnerships – delivering a value equating to a $20M+ reach.

Jamie Durie kicked off the campaign as its official ambassador and his involvement has allowed promotion of the campaign to make prime-time TV spots on Today, The Morning Show and The Daily Edition.

Nursery businesses are encouraged to get involved in the campaign and promote it through to customers and through the supply chain. A digital version of the point-of-sale kit and digital video assets to be used across your social media platforms can be sent to you. Just contact

For any questions relating to Nursery Fund marketing activities, contact David Weisz on 0412 007 942.

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