With the ever-growing labor shortage along with increasing environmental awareness, Blackmore has launched Air Tray® Technologies to improve plant quality, production efficiencies, and reduce waste. Air Tray Technologies for Ellepot, developed by Blackmore Company, are designed for practical applications. Blackmore partners with companies whose technologies complement theirs so that they can provide comprehensive solutions that integrate throughout the production process and create value for their customers.
P1. 8ct Air Tray
The importance of roots is the base for plant health that growers are looking for. Patented Air Trays promote proper root structure, giving the plant the optimal root architecture filling out the entire cell. Blackmore Partner Cliff Beumel, President of Agromillora Nursery in California, shares his experience. “The bottom line is the product works, and it all has to do with growing Ellepots in the right tray, the Air Tray,” Cliff adds, “the Air Tray is the most cost-effective and efficient way to ensure optimal performance growing in Ellepots. Combining the Air Tray and the Ellepot results in better root development through air root pruning.”
6ct Air Tray Green Machine Nursery
Air Trays are versatile and available in multiple sizes to support the grower throughout the production life cycle. They are available in both thermoform and hard plastic giving growers the option to choose which tray is the best for their operation. The other solutions that complement the Air Trays to form Air Tray Technologies are Air Tray Benching. Ellepots allow growers to transplant earlier and are easier to handle and integrate with automation.
Air Tray Benching at Dutchman Tree Farm
On the ground or permanent benches
Growers for years have been growing on the ground or on permanent benches sending employees out to move a single pot or tray at a time. This has kept the need for a large number of employees, which are not available as they once were, along with an increase in labor costs. Optimizing the current labor is a must. Growers need an option that reduces their dependency on labor and increases their profits. This is where the Air Tray Benching has reduced the dependency on labor and offers the opportunity for automation with centralized production.
Air Tray benching allows one person to move up to 4,000 liners or 400-gallon-sized containers at one time. Being able to move many plants at one time greatly reduces the cost per tray. This keeps the employees in a centralized location for planting, grading, and shipping. Having a centralized production location gives the grower the opportunity to automate effectively, being able to reduce labor costs by up to 70%.
Air Tray Benching at McCall’s Nursery being transported to Headhouse.
Automating the complexity
When thinking about automating, the complexity and cost to implement automation must be cost-effective and improve plant quality and production efficiencies and reduce waste. Cliff says, “Air Tray Technologies has been one of those solutions for us.”
Sustainability is becoming part of the culture across the industry. Blackmore’s Partners are making changes to improve the environmental impact they are having. There also must be a financial advantage for sustainability changes to last. Grant Kees, Production Manager at Agromillora in Florida, notes they have two primary goals when seeking out new innovations and/or practices for their organization. “Our primary goal is to be an environmental steward and reduce the total amount of plastic that goes to landfill. Our secondary goal is to achieve cost savings with the adoption of new technology,” he outlines, “with Air Tray Technologies, we expect to check both boxes by reducing our plastic use and finding up to 50% cost savings (depending on the pot and tray supplier comparisons).”
Reducing the carbon footprint in shipping plants to the field, to the store, or inputs being delivered is always being reviewed. The Air Tray has enabled Agromillora to grow an equally viable plant in a smaller soil volume so that they can fit more plants on a truck. Less potting mix and less space per plant on a truck contribute to significantly lowering their overall carbon footprint. Cliff describes, “we are able to produce a root system that can take a lot during transport. If you pull the Ellepots out of the Air Trays and bag them before shipping, your shipping space is even more consolidated.”
Blackmore Company and their partners will continue to develop solutions to complement Air Tray Technologies to support a more sustainable, labor-efficient future for their customers to ensure mutual success.
See the RootZone Sleeve at: TPIE Jan 18-20 booth 1925, IPM Essen Jan 24-27 Stand GA-2