September 27, 2008

Showcasing New Developments

By Collins, Kris

Kris Collins takes a look at some of the latest products and services on show at this year's Four Oaks A host of regular Four Oaks exhibitors and first timers will be using the show as the launchpad for the latest product and service introductions and revamps.

Manufacturers, plant breeders, suppliers and service providers all see the Four Oaks exhibition as an entry point to supplying the industry and linking up with customers. The show is ideal for exhibitors to display their latest offerings and update visitors since last year's event. Here are some of the latest products to look out for at the 2008 show.

Warwickshire-based Thermobile will be showing its IMA150, the latest addition to its mobile indirect fired oil heaters. Two versions are available, both with a gross heat capacity of 150kW (511,000 Btu/h) operating at 92 per cent efficiency. The single phase version (230V) has a heated airflow capacity of 9,000cu m/h and the three-phase (400V) model produces 11,000cu m/h. Features include preheating of the combustion chamber so that no cold air is blown during start up, overheat protection and temperature limitation of warm air. The introduction takes the firm's offering to 130 models.

Plant Publicity Holland will launch its generic promotional campaign Colour Your Life at this year's show, building on its longstanding Garden Messenger campaign.

The campaign is aimed at boosting plant sales and enhancing business image through retailer access to high-quality materials via a central web-based resource centre and DVD. The options give the flexibility to create materials and promotions based on new designs. Own branding can be added to designs and printed on large banners down toA5 cards. The package will be supported with a 24/7 national press service to ensure that optimal coverage is given throughout the year for the plants being promoted.

Melcourt will have its barks and wood fibres for growers on show, including its Potting Bark and Propogating Bark. Originally designed as ingredients for growing media, Melcourt customers are using these pinebased products as pot mulches. The firm has seen this technique rapidly gain popularity among nursery stock growers as the armoury of herbicides is reduced. The company's potting bark - or for a finer effect, propagating bark on the surface of the growing medium - helps protect against growth of moss, liverwort and weeds.

Laverstoke Park Laboratory Services will highlight crop analysis services run from its new lab facilities. The lab offers soil and food analysis packages measuring pH, UK indicies and levels of plant nutrients, pesticide residues, toxic elements and flavour compounds as well as catering for customers' specific requirements. Its Soil Foodweb laboratory can also analyse beneficial microbes in soil, compost and compost teas, help conventional growers to address their soil constraints and reduce their dependency on fertiliser and chemical inputs.

Jiffy UK celebrates its 50th birthday this year and will mark the occasion with a champagne reception at its stand on 2 September. The recent development of the Preforma nursery stock propagation plug range has helped improve rooting speeds and take rates, giving the opportunity to propagate and pot in one season or pot straight into a two-litre or three-litre pot. Jiffy's acquisition of the Tref Group adds the Tref substrate range to Jiffy's product portfolio. Jiffy now offers a complete professional substrate range from young plant to finished plant production. A range of options is available for the retail trade with promotional material.

Warwickshire-based tree fern specialist HSK is a leading supplier of Dicksonia antarctica and Cyathea australis to customers throughout Europe. It will be flagging up its re-styled specialist fertiliser, Tree Fern Feed. The company says a new-style label and snug-fit measuring cap is ideal for increasing the confidence of customers in getting the best results from their tree ferns.

Velcro is introducing self-engaging solutions for agriculture and gardening applications. With many new products available, including One-Wrap tape, Velcro brand Flex-Zone Wrap and Velcro brand Plant and Tree Ties, Velcro offers a range of products that can be quickly and easily readjusted during the growing process.

During the past year, H Smith Plastics has steadily increased its own plant product range to include a new cell pack carrying tray and a propagator lid to fit its seed trays. It will also be showing a range of pots from 9cm up to 10 litres in both thermoformed and injection-moulded options along with various sizes of carry trays and packs.

Making its show debut is petrol-powered garden equipment from Draper Tools. On show will be mowers powered by Briggs & Stratton engines, plus chainsaws, brushcutters and hedgetrimmers. The range is supported by PPE clothing including overcoats, helmets, footwear and harnesses.

Container Centralen sales manager Brad Louw will be on its stand to explain the benefits of the firm's Danish trolley pool system and returnable transport items (RTIs). Products include plant trolleys, roll cages and plastic crates, all supported by depot services exchange of broken equipment and virtual transfers. Louw says the RTIs optimise transport costs and ensure a costeffective return flow by condensing RTIs to a fraction of their loaded volume.

Tree stand supplier The Christmas Cabin will be launching three tree stand designs at this year's event. The new Cinco Express model offers a ratchet system for quick setup and push-pull bolts for quick release, suiting tree sizes up to 7ft (2.1m), 10ft (3m) or 12ft (3.7m) tall. With the Krinner foot-pedal clamping device, the Diamond range suits large, premium trees from 9ft (2.7m) to 15ft (4.6m) tall. The new freestanding QuickTree Display gives the retailer a choice of how to create a high-impact display of upright, cut trees. This unit works on pallets, ground spikes in grassed areas or freestanding to be individually sited in key selling positions.

Demand from the gardening public has led to the launch of a retail range of Superoots Air-Pots, on show for the first time at Four Oaks. Until now Air-Pots have been sold to commercial growers only, but the Caledonian Tree Company has developed smaller pack sizes with labelling, geared for the private gardener, as well as packs of standard Air-Pots in sizes from one litre to 20 litres.

Compost Air promotes rapid break down of domestic and green waste. The greater aerobic activity generated by the holes in the Air-Pot walls and the Air-Tube across the bottom of the heap help prevent anaerobic conditions. Gardeners who have restricted space will be interested in the Potato Tower, which can help them to produce a healthy, prolific crop.

Four Oaks first timer Bamboo is a print management service, offering coloured plastic labels, point-of-sale material and packaging for growers and plant retailers. Based in Leicester, the company offers a full creative facility, including design, copywriting and photography and uses various print processes.

Advance Bunzl will be exhibiting its "stick-in" plant labels, swing tags, printed packaging and bed cards as part its label and plant presentation products. This company offers a new source of plant labels, direct to the UK.

EnviroMonitors will be promoting affordable climate and environment monitoring devices and software from US manufacturer Spectrum Technologies to Four Oaks for the first time. Launched in the UK earlier this year Spectrum Technologies is the US's leading manufacturer of affordable monitoring devices. Equipment on show will include WatchDog weather stations and data loggers with FieldScout devices for GIS mapping soil moisture and compaction.

Fertile Fibre has a range of peat-free composts for 2008 - compressed coir blocks with added nutrients, which are said by the company to be light and easy to transport. Easy to reconstitute with water on site, they will initially be available in seed, multipurpose and potting mixes.

Greenfield Software will be displaying the latest version of its HLS labelling software. There will also be details of an upgrade offer for existing users of older versions of the software. The company will be demonstrating its new handheld unit for its Growmaster Nursery Management System, which allows quick and easy stock updates and order entry while walking around the nursery.

Copyright Haymarket Business Publications Ltd. Aug 21, 2008

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