New research nursery facilities

Scion’s research nursery has been upgraded with new facilities and demonstrations of state-of-the-art machinery not yet used in New Zealand forestry.

The facilities are pilot scale, but show how a modular, automated, lean-flow, environmentally sustainable propagation facility could work in New Zealand conditions.

Year-round propagation

With our upgraded facilities, cuttings can now be propagated at any time of year. The upgrade includes an enclosed growing area with automated climate controls. The facility will also allow us to do parallel testing of different environments, speeding up the research and development required to develop plant propagation solutions. Enclosed hedge tunnels and mini hedges are another new feature in the upgrade. Used for indigenous and exotic species, these miniature motherstock are novel in New Zealand. They provide savings in time, labour and space.

New machinery

An automated paper pot sowing line, on loan from Ellepot, is one of the key pieces of new technology. Paper pots will now replace plastic potting bags for most seedlings as we demonstrate this technology.

Another key feature of the upgrade is the automatic tray washer that cleans so thoroughly it prevents the spread of weed seed. The nursery team is enjoying the benefits of the washer, which has led to roughly 90 per cent fewer weeds.


The automated paper pot sowing line in action.


Investing in our staff

Our nursery staff are what keeps the place going, and the new facilities will significantly improve many of the nursery processes for them, while also making their work more diverse and rewarding. Team members are also undertaking training and gaining new qualifications to recognise their skills.

In an industry plagued by labour shortages, we are committed to investing in our talented staff and helping to grow their careers in horticulture.

Scion Forest Genetics Science Leader Dr Heidi Dungey and Forest Owners Association, Research and Development Manager Russell Dale.

Research trials

The nursery is set up to test rooting and growing environments for seedlings, cuttings and tissue culture propagation. If you are interested in running a trial in 2020, get in touch soon.

Special thanks to PrimeHort and Ellepot for their support.

Scion Nursery Operations Manager, Paul Keech and Rotorua Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson.

To find out more contact our Nursery Research Scientist

Craig Ford


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