Blackmore Puncher/Planter and Tagawa/Ball Punch ‘n Grow System
With so many products available on the market, how do youknow which one is right for you? Getting the most for your dollar, especiallywith an uncertain economy, is a concern for small and large growers alike.
The Blackmore Puncher/Planter and Tagawa/Ball Punch ‘n GrowSystem from Blackmore, Belleville, Mich., is an entry-level transplantingsystem that allows for high-speed transplanting at an affordable price. Here iswhat some growers had to say about it.
Nuts and Bolts
The puncher/planter is manually operated and does notrequire electricity. It utilizes special Blackmore plug trays that permitplug/seedling to be pushed through the bottom of the tray into a variety ofpacks. A simple XY indexing grid on the machine is positioned by the operatorto allow an entire flat to be planted when the levers on the machine are pulledto push the plug into the flat. The puncher/planter is capable of transplantingmore than 500 plugs per hour.
Quality. “We’vehad the system for almost two years, and we have found it to be veryefficient,” said Mark Clemmons, head grower and production manager ofSeville Farms, Mansfield, Texas. “We purchased the punching system becauseit was a low-cost way to keep a consistent planting depth and spacing withoutgoing to a full automation transplanter.” Clemmons said he was a bit waryof the physical nature of the system that presses the plugs down. But afterBlackmore’s demonstration of the product and nearly two years of application,he was assured and has been very impressed with the quality of the finalproduct gained out of the punching system.
Efficiency and Labor Reduction. “There is no way for me to describe just how much this machinehas improved our efficiency,” explained Adiel Ware, owner of WareGreenhouse, Fort Valley, Ga. “It used to take us six days to plant; now wecan do it in two, and that leaves the rest of the week to attend to otherdetails that we would otherwise leave on the back burner.” Ware Greenhousehas used the system for three years and according to Ware, “It’s probablythe best money we’ve ever spent.”
Ware explained that although the system works with smaller plugs,it does not take extra time to finish. “We are finishing our pansy plugsin three weeks.”
Andy McAllister, owner of McAllister Greenhouses, IndianTrail, N.C., who mainly uses the machine for pansy production, said thepuncher/planter greatly contributes to labor reduction. “This will be oursecond year of using the system, and it has significantly lowered the number ofpeople I need for transplanting,” McAllister said.
Because the puncher/planter is manually operated and doesnot require electricity to run, it can be transported to any area of thegreenhouse or transplanting facility. Punch ‘n Grow trays are available in manysizes: 432, 432 narrow, 432 deep, 324, 360 and 243 California. To change themachine to plant into different trays, a different punch/pin plate can beinstalled in minutes. “It is a very compact system, and it only takes 15minutes to change the line to plant something else,” Ware said. “Thesystem can be used to transplant a wide variety of plants, however, it is notsuitable for begonias.”
The puncher/planter only requires general maintenance suchas cleaning and oiling. “Like any piece of equipment, it performs betterif it is kept clean,” Clemmons explained.
Blackmore also offers system upgrades such as: powerconveyor, patching conveyor and a semi-automatic puncher/planter. All require120 VAC but no compressed air. The power conveyor facilitates throughput offlats through either the manual or semi-auto puncher and allows inline controlof tray filler for optimum efficiency of the planting line.
According to Clemmons, the machine is very versatile andeasy to use. “To sum it all up, this system is a true intermediate stepbetween manual transplanting line and robotic transplantation,” Clemmonsexplained. “It can reduce the number of people needed on your productionline, achieve depth and precision placement in the planting system and pacingto your production line.”