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 or opportunities.

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.


Check out the Horticulture Statistics Handbook

As part of its across-industry investments, Hort Innovation produces an annual Horticulture Statistics Handbook – offering the most comprehensive and contemporary data available on all sectors of the Australian horticulture industry in one easy-to-read spot. The newest edition was released on March 29 this year, with the most current version always available from the Hort Innovation Resource Centre here.

Submit ideas for the research you want to see

We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and ideas for new investments – whether that’s within the industry-specific Hort Innovation 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.

Visit the Nursery Fund page

Don’t forget that Hort Innovation’s webpage for nursery levy payers has key info and documents for the Nursery Fund, including…

  • The Nursery Strategic Investment Plan
  • Details of the Strategic Investment Advisory Panel and summaries of its meetings
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy
  • Resources related to levy investments, as they become available.
Become a member of Hort Innovation – it’s 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 here now.

Have a question or want to chat?

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

Reminder: you can still access the new industry data tool

For use by nursery levy payers, a 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.



Integrating plant life into building and infrastructure rating tools

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: Edge Environment 

What was it all about? This project was tasked with consolidating evidence of the benefits of vegetation and green spaces in the built environment, and communicating these benefits to an audience spanning the property, infrastructure and nursery sectors.

The project team note that a significant amount of research has been undertaken, both nationally and internationally, to identify and quantify the benefits of green infrastructure. The project’s work brought the findings together in a literature review and in case studies suitable for communication to key decision-makers. Subsequently, a range of consultations took place with those involved in the on-the-ground development (designing, planning and building), regulation and operation of green infrastructure.

As part of this process, the project has been able to provide scientific evidence to the Green Building Council of Australia and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia, to help 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.

The research team report that their work “has supported rating tool developers in strengthening the role of green infrastructure in their schemes, in turn encouraging the wider built environment sector to plan, design and deliver more green assets into our built environment.”

Information sheets were also produced by the project and will soon be circulated for audiences including the nursery industry, infrastructure sector and property sector. The resource for the nursery industry includes information on the opportunities that exist with the green building and infrastructure market, and how to harness them.

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, Pest (, to make diagnostic identifications more financially viable for production nurseries.
  • Delivery of biosecurity-focused webinars, as well as workshops in all states and territories. The latest workshops took place in Darwin and Adelaide during June, with a focus on implementing integrated pest management principles. Further workshops are scheduled for Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast in mid to late September, in New South Wales during October, and in Western Australia and Victoria during November. Look for details in industry channels as they become available.
  • Development and updating of grower resources including pest management plans, fact sheets and contingency plans. At the time of writing, new pest management plans for abiotic disorders and aphids had been developed, along with a new contingency plan for exotic invasive ants, and were awaiting publication on the industry website. A Nursery Paper on rust fungi was also waiting in the wings. See the ‘act now’ section below for resources currently available for download.
  • Diagnostics, with samples submitted for analysis by pest and disease diagnostic service Grow Help Australia. Since December 2017, close to 130 samples from production nurseries were received for testing.

During 2018, 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. The newest include…

Resources previously produced by the project include these fact sheets and plans…

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.

Evaluation of nursery tree stock balance parameters

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Western Sydney University

What’s it all about? This project originally ran from mid-2015 to mid-2017, looking at how species differences and climatic conditions in different production regions can affect the root-to-shoot balance in tree stock. This research was used to inform an upcoming revision of the Australian Standard AS2303:2015 Tree Stock for Landscape Use – the nationally recognised standard for assessing and specifying tree stock quality.

In an earlier edition of Hortlink the project was reported as a completed research initiative, with its results published in this fact sheet. However, the project has since been extended to allow the delivery of an industry engagement program, which is responsible for communicating the research findings back to growers and helping in the adoption of the relatively new nationwide quality assessment standard for nursery-grown trees for landscape use.

What’s the latest update? On June 4, 2018, the draft revised AS2303 standard was released for public comment, with public consultation closing on August 6. See ‘act now’, below, for how to get involved.

Meanwhile, the engagement component of this project continues to involve…

  • The development of grower-friendly guidelines and an online tool around the national standard and the project’s new information on tree stick balance.
  • Workshops and presentations to bring information on root-to-shoot balance and the tree stock standard to industry, with recent attendance at the National Nursery and Garden Industry Conference in Hobart, and the annual TREENET symposium in Adelaide. You can access a video of the TREENET presentation here (24 mins).
  • Work towards a national roadshow bringing project information and resources to growers – look for details in industry channels as they become available.


Until August 6 you can review the proposed revision of the AS2303 standard and provide your feedback. Visit the Standards Australia website here and search for “tree stock for landscape use”.

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? The project has been busy producing educational resources for industry and the community, which to date include…

  • A soon-to-be-released video for growers and the public, addressing the threat from vegetable leafminer and the project’s aims
  • This podcast from InfoVeg Radio, which includes information on the pest and how to report possible detections
  • This project info flyer (circulated in earlier editions of Hortlink)
  • This awareness poster, which is being distributed to local councils, schools and throughout tourism hotspots in at-risk regions
  • A resource for school educators, currently in development and designed to talk to primary school children about exotic pests, with a focus on vegetable leafminer.

For industry, in-person updates at industry workshops and nursery visit continue, while engagement with local council contacts is also ongoing to ensure council officers in at-risk regions are equipped with information – particularly to guide the assessment of non-commercial host plants during weed surveys. This information also has the potential to be integrated in to council biosecurity plans.

Meanwhile, the project partners are continuing to work towards the development of vegetable leafminer surveillance toolkits. This includes looking at the most successful and efficient surveillance techniques for the pest, with fieldwork being undertaken to assess pest monitoring methods from around the world. Initial work was conducted on the use of yellow sticky traps, with the focus now shifting to visual surveillance techniques as the method most likely to yield success for early detections of leafminer. Look for updates on this work as the project progresses.

Other ongoing work includes…

  • Development of molecular identification methods, including investigation of the potential to extract and identify DNA from empty leafmines.
  • Development of an interactive distribution map of the pest.
  • Development of 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.
  • Bringing together information on 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 emergency use permits.
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 developed an ‘Entrants’ Kit’ with information and FAQs 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 regular digital updates provided to growers and other industry stakeholders, as well as national and regional workshops as required.

What’s the latest update? The project continues to…

  • Deliver monthly e-newsletters to growers with updates on the 202020 Vision
  • Produce content for the regular 202020 Vision spread that appears in Hort Journal issues
  • Deliver talks and workshops, with the most recent events focusing on the 202020 Vision’s first consumer-facing campaign, Plant Life Balance. These included presentations at the National Nursery and Garden Industry Conference held in Hobart and two Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria events.


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…

Where should all the trees go? – Delivering the insights

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Republic of Everyone

What’s it all about? Beginning in January, this short project follows previous investment Where should all the trees go? An investigation of the impact of tree canopy cover on socio-economic status and wellbeing in LGAs (NY16005). The initial project 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. It also looked at the relationships between tree canopy cover and socio-economic, health and wellbeing factors in LGAs.

Project NY17000 is now 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, with subsequent events having taken place in Adelaide in March, Perth in May, and Sydney and Brisbane in June. Presentations from the events will be made available on the 202020 Vision website here, with recaps also able to be found of the Perth event here, the Adelaide event here and the Melbourne launch event here.

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? With applications for this year’s program closing in March, the 2018 cohort began 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. Look out for stories on this year’s participants as the course runs through.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • 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 is set to provide recommendations for diagnostic tools for further evaluation and adoption, to bolster biosecurity and minimise the impact of pests and diseases on the industry.
  • Metropolitan urban forestry
    , which began in January to feed into the industry’s 202020 Vision initiative. It is tasked with developing a deeper understanding of urban greening at a metro/state level, including identifying any barriers to establishing green space. It is also providing education and a touch point for organisations including councils, government departments and others seeking information on green space in the context of planning. This includes delivery of regular e-newsletter updates through the 202020 Vision network.


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.

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

Attracting new entrants into Australian horticulture – promoting careers in horticulture (LP15006), a project that’s part of the Hort Frontiers Leadership Fund and is about engaging graduate students with the horticulture industry. It involves a Graduate Engagement Program delivered by Rimfire Resources with a two-phased 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.

  • Year-two intake is currently commencing, with a number of businesses now committed to taking on interns. At the time of writing there were still two opportunities left for businesses in the nursery industry to take on an intern – so if you’re looking to bring this kind of expertise onto your farm, email Rhys Pirie from Rimfire Resources at
  • Four graduates are now either in or about to commence full-time work with their host company.
  • The ARLF Leadership Program (which forms part of the phase-two training component of the Graduate Engagement Program), will be held this year with the residential component to take place on in September, with ongoing online learning and mentorship. Aimed at recent graduates, this program is designed specifically for the sector to build confidence, networks and industry understanding to support the development of future industry leaders. There are some additional positions on this course available. For any company that might be interested in sending an employee, please contact Nigel Crawley or Mick Hay from Rimfire Resources on 1300 380 701.

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.”



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, social media and public relations. In this edition of Hortlink, we put the spotlight on some of the latest and exciting consumer-facing activities of the initiative, and provide an update with respect to the new five-year marketing strategy for the industry.

Plant Life Balance grows from strength to strength

It’s been several months since the 202020 Vision’s Plant Life Balance consumer campaign launched, with the program going from strength to strength and encouraging sales growth reported nationally. The objective of this campaign is to get more Australians excited and confident about styling their homes with plants, with science explaining the two fundamental benefits of green life in the home: improved air quality and wellbeing.

The campaign uses 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 strength of the campaign is founded on 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.

This April, the Plant Life Balance app was recognised by the International Webby Awards. The Webby Awards recognise excellence in digital media globally across a number of categories. The awards are presented annually by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and this year the Plant Life Balance app was named the Best Lifestyle Mobile Site and App, and was also the Peoples’ Voice winner. Read more about the accolades here and see the award win on the Webby Awards site here.

With more than 46,000 downloads since launch, the Plant Life Balance app lets people experiment with over 145 plant varieties in their own indoor and outdoor spaces to see what works best, before they head out to their local nursery. 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.

To help drive awareness and consumer engagement, an integrated campaign across PR, media partnerships, ambassador activation, social media, digital activity and influencer engagement has been seen more than 60 million times since launch and was also activated to drive brand awareness and conversation. More than 550 local and international media pieces have appeared across TV, newspaper, digital platforms and through social media, with more than 21,000 new plant lovers having joined Plant Life Balance’s social networks across Facebook and Instagram.

Essential to the success of the program is the engagement with and promotion of the campaign through independent retail nurseries. Nine retailer training events were held around the country last year, with a recent webinar taking place to help nurseries run their own social media competitions to help attract customers into stores. Due to the success of the program, Bunnings have invited the Plant Life Balance team to promote the campaign and the science behind it at their upcoming expos nationally.

Independent nurseries are encouraged to get involved with 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

A new five-year program built on cross-sector collaboration

With the Nursery Fund’s current marketing program coming to a close in June this year, Hort Innovation and the industry’s Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) have spent the better part of the last six months establishing a clear understanding of the nursery marketplace and the key barriers to more urban greening, while also identifying the major barriers impacting on green space nationally. As part of this process, an independent evaluation of the current program was conducted. A key outtakes of the evaluation was that the 202020 Vision program should continue “to ensure the goodwill and positive awareness of the program to date is translated into measured benefits to the levy payers and program partners.”

To support the review’s recommendations and expand on existing industry knowledge and expertise, a strategic workshop was held in Melbourne this April, bringing together a group of senior green space decision-makers and influencers spanning government, business, health, finance, development and NGOs. Executives from Nursery and Garden Industry Australia, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, City Of Melbourne, the Green Building Council, Frasers Property, BUPA, the National Australia Bank as well as a selection of key growers with national representation joined the industry SIAP and key Hort Innovation staff to help establish and steer the new five-year marketing strategy.

As soon as the new operating plan is finalised, the new marketing strategy and program will be shared with the industry. For any questions relating to Nursery Fund marketing activities, please contact David Weisz on 0412 007 942 or

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