Plants to the People

Centralizing Labor: Plants to the People

We have talked often about labor-saving techniques and how choosing the right container can help save you valuable seconds on many of the repetitive tasks within a propagation nursery.

However, one of the biggest costs in terms of labor is very often moving the plants around the nursery. This could be between seeding areas and greenhouses, or greenhouses and outdoor areas. Perhaps surprisingly, the right container and media can help here too. The key is to move the plants around, not the people.

There are two more stages that can be taken to make processes even more streamlined. The first is to move all the processes under one roof, the second is to do this, but also invest in more advanced automation machinery.

The Three Pillars of Saving Labor

The Tray/Container

6 Cell tree propagation container

For compatibility with mechanization and transport equipment, secure and consistent Ellepot placement, inbuilt benching & long-life cost-saving design.


For great roots and ease of standardized mechanization processes, early pulling and grading and quicker turn around.

Pot Forks

To move large numbers of plants around at once efficiently and quickly. Click above to watch the video to see the forks in action!

The Full Concept

Replacing Gallon Pots with Ellepots

Improving Movement around a Nursery

Go from this example, where moving plants needs dozens of people….

to this…that uses a few pieces of equipment and a fraction of the people.

The Headhouse

Once you can move plants around easily, one of the biggest upgrades you can do to a nursery is to expand or create a headhouse. See an example layout to the right.

This is an extreme example where every process has been automated – this does not have to be the case to see savings. Simply moving all the labor to a central location and manually completing all or some of the jobs creates many efficiency savings.

Cost up the prices of the different machines versus how much labor you will save and make changes as appropriate.

Other Benefits of Centralization

Easier, More Comfortable Work

Let’s face it: some of the jobs on a nursery are not the most pleasant. They are dirty, hot and not great on the back. While the cost of labor is a problem, just getting the labor in the first place is an issue. If a job is more comfortable and pleasant, in a cool building, sat down and with all the tools needed to hand, you are much more likely to attract and keep good, quality workers.

Fewer Workers Required

As jobs are easier and more pleasant, operations run smoother. This means overall you need fewer workers. If you go the full automation route, far fewer workers are required.

Workers are Easier to Manage

As most workers are centralized and in one place, they are much easier to manage. Problems can be identified much quicker and morale can be much more easily maintained.

Water and bathrooms can also be centralized and easier and cheaper to provide.

Safer (in terms of injuries)

Less bending over, fewer problems associated with hot days and heat.

All Machinery In One Place

If something breaks down, chances are it is going to be in one room. Parts can be on hand and engineers can more quickly identify the problem.