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.


Access the new industry data tool

For use by nursery levy payers, a new data tool has been produced as part of completed Nursery Fund project Nursery industry statistics and research (NY16004). The Excel-based tool is designed to help users benchmark core aspects of their business against the results of an extensive sample survey of more than 220 nursery production businesses. It allows users to make comparisons in relation to the type of plants sold and the market segments operated in. It also allows users to compare business sales, number of employees and wages to national averages, and compare their views on the future of the nursery industry to those of their peers.

To request a copy of the tool, email Hort Innovation also invites all feedback on the tool, which will help contribute to future improvements in nursery industry data resources.

Chat with your Relationship Manager

Hort Innovation Relationship Management Lead John Vatikiotis is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Hort Innovation Nursery Fund program. You can arrange a time for John to call you using this quick online form, or otherwise reach him on 0429 022 637 or at

Submit ideas for the research you want to see

Share your thoughts and ideas for new investments – whether that’s within the industry-specific Nursery Fund, where projects are 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 here.

Don’t forget the Nursery Fund page

Hort Innovation’s webpage for nursery levy payers is a handy source of info on levy investments. As well as resources from projects, you’ll find key documents including the industry’s Strategic Investment Plan, information about the Strategic Investment Advisory Panel and its meetings, and more.

Not a member of Hort Innovation? Sign up for free!

As well as providing voting rights at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting, Hort Innovation membership brings you closer to investments and resources in your levy fund. Have Hortlink sent straight to your inbox for first-look access, receive exclusive alerts with industry-specific news and opportunities, and more. Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a member, so sign up now.



Metropolitan urban forestry

Status: New project

Key research provider: The Republic of Everyone

What’s it all about? Beginning in January, this new R&D investment feeds into the industry’s 202020 Vision initiative. It will develop a deeper understanding of urban greening at a metro/state level, including identifying any barriers to establishing green space. It will also provide education and a touch point for organisations including councils, government departments and others seeking information on green space in the context of planning. This will include delivery of regular e-newsletter updates through the 202020 Vision network.

Where should all the trees go? – Delivering the insights

Status: New project

Key research provider: The Republic of Everyone

What’s it all about? Contracted by Hort Innovation in January, this new investment for the Nursery Fund follows previous project Where should all the trees go? An investigation of the impact of tree canopy cover on socio-economic status and wellbeing in LGAs (NY16005). This earlier investment looked at changes to canopy cover in Australian’s metropolitan local government areas (LGAs), identifying priority areas for greening across Australia and monitoring progress towards the 202020 Vision goal of making Australia’s urban areas 20 per cent greener by the year 2020. The project also looked at the relationships between tree canopy cover and socio-economic, health and wellbeing factors in LGAs.

The new investment is taking findings from the earlier research and delivering them at workshop-style information sessions across the country for industry leaders, landscape architects, government department staff and other relevant stakeholders.

What’s the latest update? The project’s ‘Green Light Tour’ sessions kicked off in Melbourne in late February, held in collaboration with a suite of partners including the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, The City of Melbourne, CAUL Hub and with the support of Resilient Melbourne, the Living Future Institute Australia and The Nature Conservancy. There will be an additional four tours happening around the country in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney.

Nursery industry conference partnership

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: Nursery & Garden Industry Australia

What was it all about? This investment supported the communication of levy-related activities to growers at the 2018 Nursery Garden Industry National Conference & Exhibition, held in Hobart from February 19-21 this year. At the time of writing, a conference wrap-up and recaps of learnings from the event were being readied for distribution in industry channels. Information and presentations from the event are also expected to be available here in the near future.

You can also check out videos from the conference via the industry’s YouTube channel.

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. During 2017, the project team provided 15 new species records, including basic biological information and symptom images for inclusion in the PestID tool. An additional 175 images were also added to the database.
  • Delivery of biosecurity-focused webinars, as well as workshops in all states and territories.
  • 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. During 2017, more than 270 nursery samples were received for testing.

This year, as requested by industry, an additional element of the project will be a biosecurity simulation exercise relating to Xylella fastidiosa, to be delivered by Plant Health Australia.


There are plenty of project resources to access and implement…

  • Look out for Nursery Papers relating to the project, including this one on endophytic fungi and why they are an important biosecurity concern.

Keep an eye out for other resources currently in production, and remember that you can access all fact sheets produced by past and current projects 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 earlier editions 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). It also continues to maintain the industry’s minor use permit program as needed.

Of note, the banana and avocado industries are now transitioning their own clean plant programs to the Nursery Production FMS over the next year or so. You can read more about this in this release from February 2018.


Learn more about BioSecure HACCP and how you can become certified on the Nursery Production FMS website here. The website also hosts relevant biosecurity resources in its technical resource hub, while online training associated with the program is available via the industry’s eLearning Portal.

And in case you missed these resources from earlier Hortlinks…

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: Ongoing program

Key research provider: Republic of Everyone 

What’s it all about? Beginning in late 2017, this 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? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, at the tail-end of 2017 the project delivered workshops across the country relating to the 202020 Vision’s first consumer-facing campaign, Plant Life Balance. These workshops provided an overview of the campaign and its messages, the levy-funded research on plant health benefits that has informed it, and key info on how to get involved. A reminder that information on the campaign remains available and nursery businesses are encouraged to get involved – email for a digital version of the campaign’s point-of-sale kit and digital video assets that can be used across social media platforms.

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

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 bolstering 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 and in the community.

What’s the latest update? With an official project update due to Hort Innovation in the near future, look for the latest info in the next edition of Hortlink. In the meantime, you can revisit last edition’s update below…

Back in July 2017, 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. At the time of writing, the project team was preparing for 2018 field surveys.

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.

What’s the latest update? Applications for the 2018 program closed in early March, after being advertised in industry channels. This year’s cohort is set to begin the course in May. If you’d like to learn more about the program, and keep it on your radar for the next intake, visit the program’s website or email The Right Mind.

You can also learn about the experiences of participants in the 2017 program and the benefits to their businesses, including in this case study with Hayley Whitehorn from Poplar Grove Wholesale Nursery, featured in an earlier Hortlink, this article on Andrew Creighton from Alpine Nurseries, and this latest article featuring Zoe Palmer from Anderson Horticulture.

Integrating plant life into building and infrastructure rating tools

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Edge Environment

What’s it all about? This project is consolidating evidence of the benefits of vegetation and green spaces 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.

What’s the latest update? The project team has now completed a review of existing research and literature, bringing together available information on the ecosystem services and benefits of green infrastructure, and the metrics currently used. Part of this has involved comparing building and infrastructure elements that may be substituted by green infrastructure, including plants. The review has also taken a closer look at the current rating tools.

The researchers are now conducting interviews and surveys to identify barriers to and opportunities for harnessing the benefits of vegetation in the built environment, and are producing resources for the nursery, construction and infrastructure industries. Look for updates in future Hortlinks.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • 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 industry standard for tree stock for landscape use and the project’s new information on tree stick balance, as well as workshops and presentations.
  • A review of diagnostic technologies to benefit the Australian nursery industry
    (NY16003), an ongoing project that is tasked with identifying smart surveillance tools for detecting endemic and exotic pets of relevance to the Australian nursery industry, in both lab and point-of-care settings. It will provide recommendations for diagnostic tools for further evaluation and adoption, to bolster biosecurity and minimise the impact of pests and diseases on the industry.


Recap: 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 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…

Global Masterclass in Horticultural Business (LP15001), a project that’s part of the Hort Frontiers Leadership Fund. In both 2017 and 2018, the nursery levy has been used in this project to fund scholarships for industry levy-payers to take part in the Masterclass in Horticultural Business course, developed under Hort Frontiers.

  • The Masterclass is aimed at fostering new innovators and leaders for the Australian horticulture industry. Best described as a ‘mini MBA’, it’s a nine-month course run by the University of Tasmania, in conjunction with Lincoln University in New Zealand and the Wageningen Research Academy in the Netherlands, where participants develop their business skills and build their own business plans for the future. The course is delivered predominantly online, with several face-to-face sessions and field trips to some of Australia’s savviest horticulture outfits.
  • In December 2017, the inaugural class of 2017 finished the course with the last of their face-to-face sessions in Hobart, Tasmania. Students delivered their final business plans to teachers and industry professionals, as well as their fellow classmates, at the University of Tasmania. This was followed by a weekend of field trips to local growers and producers. Catch up with the students and see where their journey took them in this quick video, or check it out on the Hort Innovation Facebook page.
  • In February 2018, 30 new students met for the first time and began their Masterclass studies with their first face-to-face session in the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
  • The 2018 class features four students awarded scholarships funded by the nursery levy. One of these nursery participants is Ben Scoble, from Speciality Trees in Victoria. Ben might not have begun his journey too far from home, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a wealth of information and new experiences to dive into. “Even just today, I’ve learned so much from the teacher and the farms we’ve visited,” said Ben at the first session. “It’s been terrific. And meeting the other students and hearing their stories, it’s been really amazing.”

Attracting new entrants into Australian horticulture – promoting careers in horticulture (LP15006), another Leadership Fund project that is engaging graduate students with the horticulture industry.

  • The program 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.
  • Ten students have now completed the first phase of the program. For the next round, there will be 15 placements up for grabs, including two placements funded with additional support from the nursery levy. Successful applicants for the nursery program will take their internship in a levy-paying nursery business.
  • There is still opportunity for horticulture businesses to be involved and take a successful applicant. Emphasis will be on finding students who come from non-horticulture backgrounds – namely in fields such as business, marketing and IT. So if you’re looking to bring this kind of expertise onto your farm, talk to Rhys Pirie from Rimfire Resources at If you know a student who would like to apply for the program, they can do so at

The nursery levy is also involved in Developing the business case for green cities (GC15000), a project that is part of the Hort Frontiers Green Cities Fund that is helping build the evidence base needed by organisations to make business cases for urban greening. At the time of writing the project was wrapping up, so look for more in the next edition 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. While the 202020 Vision is multi-faceted, involving work with green-space decision-makers, end users, communities and more, in late October 2017, the first consumer-facing campaign of the initiative was launched. Here’s a quick look at how it’s been going…

Plant Life Balance in a nutshell

It’s only been a few months since the 202020 Vision’s Plant Life Balance consumer campaign launched, with the program working to raise the profile of nursery products nationally with inspiring, practical content – and positive sales growth is being reported across the country.

The Plant Life Balance campaign aims to get Australians excited and confident about styling their homes with plants, while educating around two fundamental benefits of plants: improved air quality and wellbeing. The campaign is supported by research – with the science behind it developed by the R&D component of the Nursery Fund program – as well as the world’s first augmented-reality greening app. The app lets people experiment with more than 130 plant varieties in their own spaces to see what works, before they head out to their local nursery.

Curated by The Plant Hunter, seven style looks with both ‘indoor and outdoor plant pallets’ have been designed to inspire and motivate increased greening in small spaces. The app even allows users to rate their space and shows the level of air quality and wellbeing that their chosen plants bring.

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.

The campaign’s reach so far

The consumer campaign is using technology and social media to connect with a target audience of women aged between 25 and 35 years (with and without children), to help build their confidence and inspire them to get more ‘plant life balance’ in their lives.

The Plant Life Balance app has had 37,000+ downloads since launch and counting.

To help drive awareness and consumer engagement, an integrated campaign has also been put to work, utilising public relations (PR), media partnerships, work with ambassadors, social media, digital advertising and influencer engagement – with campaign materials seen more 40 million times since launch, at the time of writing.

Gardening personality Jamie Durie kicked off the campaign as its official ambassador, and his involvement has sine allowed promotion of the campaign in prime-time TV spots on programs including Today, The Morning Show and The Daily Edition.

More than 450 local and international media pieces have so far appeared across TV, newspapers, digital platforms and through social media, with more than 4000 new plant lovers having joined Plant Life Balance’s social networks on Facebook and Instagram.

How you can get involved

Essential to the success of the program has been, and will continue to be, the engagement with and promotion of the campaign through independent retail nurseries. Retailer training events were held around the country last year, letting businesses know about the details of the campaign and the elements to bring it to life (as described in the R&D snapshot above).

For in-store promotion, branded point-of-sale kits were created which include bunting, plant tags, shelf wobblers, posters, staff badges and ‘cheat sheets’ for sales staff. These are free to any retail nursery who wants to get behind the campaign. So far, 98 retailers around the country having snapped up these kits, become Plant Life Balance accredited and have successfully begun using them in their businesses. Contact for more, as well as info on digital campaign assets.

Feedback from retail nurseries has been very positive. Tim’s Garden Centre in Campbelltown, NSW said: “[We’ve] found using the app in the process of selling and showing the customer how to use it has helped to seal the deal. The positive is that it turns the sale of one plant on the day into several with pots and potting mix etc. When talking to customers about what plants they want, how many they require to freshen up the air inside, as well as letting them know about the wellbeing benefits of having several, is the gentle push they need to purchase a few and not just the one they were popping in for. Some customers didn’t even know they needed an indoor plant until seeing the signage.”

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

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