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Case Study – Javo Buffer Belts for automated pot handling – Poplar Grove

Location – POPLAR GROVE, South Australia


From a backyard in 2000, Poplar Grove leased a 1.5 acre site at Lonsdale in the south of Adelaide. What was a hobby grew to fill the nursery to maximum capacity and by 2004 and they realised that a new site was necessary.
After twelve months of searching, a nine acre property at Sellicks Beach, 45 minutes south of Adelaide, was chosen developed started in January 2006. Stage one saw 450m² of shedding, 1500m² of shade and tunnels and 12,000m² of growing area, which was completed five months later and is still ‘work in progress’.
By 2013/14 the nursery has grown to 5 acre, has around 4 mega-litres of water storage and recycles to Nursery Industry best practice. Solar panels offset around 75% of power use.
Poplar Grove produces around 300,000 pots, mainly 150mm for the retail plant market. Product is sold to Bunnings, Big W, Mitre 10 and independent garden centres both in Adelaide and throughout regional South Australia.

The Challenge

One of the largest costs in a nursery is the labour cost of handling pots, that is getting a pot filled, planted, watered and then put out to the growing locations throughout the nursery..and back again.
In 2013 Jason began a search for a system to streamline the potting process, reduce manual handling and employ less staff in the potting process.

The solution

After months of research on systems that would “fit” with his site and systems, Jason went ahead with a twin Javo buffer belt system from Powerplants that integrates with his existing Javo Plus potting machine and a purpose built forklift and pot forks from The Netherlands for distribution of pot blocks around the nursery.

This system allows pots to be organized in large ‘blocks’ straight after potting. The programmable buffer belt presents these blocks to a forklift with a matched set of pot forks which remove the pots from the buffer table and carry the block to its designated growing area.

Having a twin buffer belt system provides a number of functions that will help Jason achieve his efficiency goals.


The first buffer table will:

  • Speed up the potting process
  • Reduce manual handling, especially the putting down process
  • Reduce the number of staff involved in the potting process

The second buffer table will also give Jason several benefits:

  • Being able to return stock to the potting shed and work with the product at a comfortable, workable height, therefore improving manual handling. Pruning, staking, grading and even labelling at an appropriate height rather than at ground level benefitting staff and speeding the process up.
  • Ability to initially put stock down in the nursery pot to pot therefore saving space, water and being able to space stock as required by bringing back to the second buffer table.
  • The pot forks will also be able to easily move stock around the nursery as required. For example during hot weather Jason can efficiently move stock to a heavier shade area or initially grow heat/water sensitive crops in a controlled environment such as an igloo and move them out once established to grow on and harden off.
  • Also potentially to have a designated centralized dispatch area where he can bring finished product to, which will streamline the order picking process rather than having to pick from the entire nursery area.

The Prins Forklift

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