Maintaining the viability and health of plants while they are in the nursery is crucial for an efficient business. Root air-pruning has helped reduce losses resulting from circling roots and prevents plants from becoming pot-bound. Roots exposed to the air become desiccated, dying off as secondary roots develop. Air-pruning effectively allows plants to stay in plugs or pots longer, reducing the need for potting-on.
Air root-pruning systems, such as Cellular Trays from Transplant Systems, achieve this through superior root control features in the construction of the cell allowing for longer carryover until planting conditions are optimum. The cell design creates the means to contribute to the health of the plant while in the nursery, and enhances plant growth and survival following planting. The design of the cell encourages new root growth and promotes root branching while preventing roots from spiralling.
Each corner of the cell has a convex arc with root guiding ridges together with round, air venting holes across the surface of the tray. These holes allow air to rise and flow past the cell wall openings and though the developing foliage, minimising possible fungal problems. The shape of the cell wall directs formative, advancing roots to the side openings in the cell where they become air-pruned by the air movement past these openings. The openings also provide perfect drainage of the media in the cells.
The side openings are tapered to make carryover plant extraction easier, and inward facing sharp edges at the top of each opening remove fibrous hair roots.
When planted, lateral and leader bottom roots advance quickly, free of root curl, growing a more natural root structure anchoring the plant to successfully carry an expanding canopy.
Modular planting systems take advantage of the benefits of automation. All air root pruning trays from Transplant Systems are designed to lower the cost of nursery operations by enabling the use of mechanisation. De-stacking, tray filling, seed sowing, seed covering and all tray movement in the nursery can be automated. All air root-pruning trays from Transplant Systems are rigid, with a vertical strengthening band around the top edge designed to ensure the cell pitch is maintained across adjacent trays. The top band has recesses for use by automatic stacking and de-stacking machines. The trays will last a long time and are easy to nest and stack for economy of storage space.
The trays have smooth surfaces and tend to stay clean and free from attachment by roots or organic debris, and can be washed manually or processed through tray washing machines.
The base of each cell has a media catch grid with an apex form of construction with a centre hole allowing for mechanical de-plugging.
The trays are made by the injection hot moulding process. They are rigid and reusable, offering economical and biological benefits to both the plant producer and the buyer of the plants.
The superior performance in air pruning the roots can only be obtained when the trays are placed on benches or plant frames keeping the cell trays at a height that permits good air circulation beneath. Placing the cell trays on any flat, closed surface or on the floor restricts air flow and completely negates this air root-pruning benefit.