How to build a good holding nursery

Holding nurseries are basic structures designed to hold seedling trays on site so planting contractors or farmers can draw from them as required. They also serve as a base to harden seedlings to the specific site conditions. This article provides some do's and don'ts when setting up a holding nursery.

Building holding nurseries
Two examples of holding nurseries.

 

Nurseries growing timber seedlings have come a long way in the last 20 years, and now need to adhere to strict quality regulations in order to sell their seedlings. However, all of these are fruitless if the holding nursery that the seedlings deliver to has poor water quality, disease and weeds as high as the holding benches.Here are some key areas where holding nurseries can be drastically improved:

Water

  • Water needs to be clean enough to drink.
  • There needs to be a minimum of 3 l water available on site per seedling tray per day. An average holding nursery will carry 2 000 trays therefore 6 000 l per day.
  • A back-up water facility ie. water cart or bakkie sakkie.

Benches

  • Seedling trays need to be a minimum of half a metre off the ground.
  • Wire strands are the most cost-effective method of keeping trays off the ground, although benches need to be supported correctly at the ends so the wire can be tensioned adequately.
  • Benches need to be well drained underneath with suitable stone or ash crush between walkways to prevent slippery surfaces.
  • Nursery site borders need to be mowed or weed killed to prevent seeds from contaminating seedling trays.
  • Benches need to be pressure cleaned with water and (if allowed) some type of disinfectant bi-annually to get rid of any fungus or bacteria that is likely to be a cause of infection. This ideally needs to be done immediately before and after the growing season.

Published in August 2010

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Mulching of harvest residues is rapidly gaining ground in South African forestry, and is proving to be a game changer. Link in bio. Image courtesy of Savithi Mulching.

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