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Production Gruppo Padana, a leading producer of young plants with its headquarters in Paese, Italy has found in the Ellegaard potting machine the most efficient way to reduce costs while producing premium quality plants grown in their own tailormade substrate.

Gruppo Padana opts for Ellegaard technology A

by Ron van der Ploeg

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s a pioneer in developing horti technology and ground-breaking logistic solutions, Gruppo Padana was the first company to introduce its own Star Tray with cone shaped cells allowing enhanced root growth. Currently, the news is that the company has a European first in producing young plants in a 60 mm Jumbo Ellepot, a pot of biodegradable paper. Plants grown in Jumbo Ellepots feature the same vigourous shapes as plants grown in the traditional 8 and 10 cm pots. Both crop time and the number of transplantings can be reduced significantly Gruppo Padana, named after the Po Valley which is called Val Padana or Pianura Padana in Italian, is a family business in the true sense of the word. In the 1950s Albino Gazzola began building a dynasty in the young plants industry, specializing in vegetables and ornamentals. . In 1989 the two brothers Giorgio and Paolo Gazzola took over their father’s company which they have subsequently expanded with the help of their own sons. Today, the firm continues to offer a wide array of young vegetable plants and bedding plants and further expansion is still high on their agenda. Rabensteiner, the Austrian hothouse builder recently completed a 2 ha greenhouse facility, bringing the company’s total greenhouse area to 12 ha, good for an annual output of 250 million young plants. Cyclamen from seed and Pel-

www.FloraCultureInternational.com | June 2010

argonium from cuttings rank among the company’s bestsellers in ornamentals, as well as a large assortment of bedding plants for winter production. Products are sold on the local market while sales on export markets are becoming increasingly important. Foreign clients are growers in Eastern Europe countries such as Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia and Romania but also in Western European countries such as Germany, Belgium France, Spain and Portugal have discovered Gruppo Padana’s premium quality and competitive prices.

Innovation

According to production manager Claudio Vazzola, the company

prides itself on always being one step ahead of the competition when it comes to innovation. “For example, Gruppo Padana developed its own Star Tray for the production and transportation of seed-grown and vegetative young plants. It’s a new type of plastic tray with coneshaped cells and grooves at the four corners which provides enhanced root growth. That’s because the tray prevents the formation of massive ‘root nests’, making transplanting much easier and guaranteeing quicker growth afterwards.”


Strong, healthy and above all wellrooted young plants are fundamental to Gruppo Padana’s flourishing business and this explains the company’s choice for Ellegaard, a leading Danish manufacturer of potting machines and paper pots. “Gruppo Padana’s choice for Ellegaard was well-considered. The exceptional level of user satisfaction among industry peers who work with the Ellegaard potting machines, was a key factor in our choice for Ellegaard technology. Ellegaard has a deep understanding

of Gruppo Padana’s wide assortment of 2,500 different species and their particular needs.”

Ellegaard NGL versus Multiflex

Ellegaard have provided the Italian young plant producer with two NGL machines and one Multiflex. The high volume NGL has a high capacity per hour of up to 36,000 pots with a diameter of 35 mm, while the Multiflex produces 4,000 pots with a diameter of 25 mm per hour.

“We bought the machines with the aim of achieving more flexibility in the choice of rooting medium. With pre-finished plugs you’re always limited to one type of substrate whereas using your own Ellegaard machine you can easily change the substrate. We can change the substrate at our premises every 100 to 200 trays. It happens that we change substrate two to three times a day. As for the used paper used in the Ellepot we opted for EP, made of cellulose fibres with some polyester for >>>

June 2010 | www.FloraCultureInternational.com

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Production reinforcement. The paper is environmentally friendly and is suitable for almost all crops. Moreover, EP paper has a open structure, facilita­ ting root penetration and therefore the growth of new young roots.”

Adequate return

The acquisition of three Ellegaard machines has provided an adequate return on the estimated €400,000 investment as Vazzola explains, “By choosing Ellegaard solutions,

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www.FloraCultureInternational.com | June 2010

Gruppo Padana has set its sights on lowering production costs, while still guaranteeing a daily fresh quality product. The automated potting process encompasses an important reduction in labour costs. In the past we needed around eight people in our potting department while today only one operator is needed for each machine.“

Ellepot Jumbo Pot

The news at the moment is that

Gruppo Padana is one of Europe’s first young plant suppliers with large-scale production of the Ellepot Jumbo. “We started growing Geranium, Surfinia, Calibrachoa and Portulaca cuttings in the new 60 mm Ellegaard Jumbo pot a year ago and so far the results are beyond expectations. Last year with 1 million last year Ellegaard Jumbo pots we reached a production level which was far above the planned figure and in this range we expect


further growth. Thanks to the Ellegaard Jumbo pots we can offer our customers a product that not only looks like, but also has roots of a 10 cm pot.” An Ellegaard Multiflex machine produces up to 4,000 Ellegaard Jumbo pots per hour with the pots placed in Gruppo Padana’s patented Star Tray according to the desired pattern. “We are convinced that the Ellegaard Jumbo pots will increasingly replace the 8 and 10 cm pots currently used in professional nurseries. Cuttings grown in Jumbo pots are larger and more well rooted than cuttings in a 35 mm pot allowing the grower to reduce his crop time and heating costs. A lower heating bill is significant for the grower, especially in difficult times economically and during harsh winters like this year’s. Furthermore, the Ellepot Jumbo means no plastic waste, no root damage and no growth disruption when transplanting the paper pots into the garden.”

Optimism

When talking about market opportunities, Vazzola refers to the Italian domestic market as a stable outlet with a distinct preference for large flowered geraniums, pansies and petunia in vivid colours. “It was a slow start at the beginning of March, but now demand seems to be really solid. As production manager, one of my concerns is if we’re on schedule or not, and so far we are.” Vazzola says Gruppo Padana has good expectations for export sales, even though most markets are quiet new to the company. “Crisis? Well, let’s say that we feel the effects of the economic crisis less than the building or car industry, for example. Sales in young vegetable plants are booming so it’s looking pretty good. I’m pleased with the way things are going.” Optimism also reigned at Gruppo Padana’s stand at this year’s IPM in Germany. It was jam-packed with people as usual. “People always

notice Gruppo Padana at trade shows as we are situated right in the heart of Italy’s famous Prosecco region. We make a point of providing typical Italian hospitality and we toast each and every order, large or small.” |||

June 2010 | www.FloraCultureInternational.com

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Ellepot production at Grupo Padana  

Ellepot production at Grupo Padana

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