Choosing a vegetable nursery site for your agribusiness
A number of important aspects must be considered in choosing a site for the establishment of a nursery if the outlay on seed, fertilizer, and labour is to show profitable returns. These factors are broadly grouped into the following:
This refers to natural features of the land, which may greatly influence the cost of operation and facilitate management of the nursery.
Proximity to planting site (main field)
Some of the advantages of locating a nursery as close as possible to the main field are:
- Cost of transporting the seedlings to the field is minimized.
- Less risk of loss of seedlings during transportation, and seedling failure after transplanting.
- Reducing the chances of transmitting or redistributing soil-borne pathogens through seedling roots or earth balls over long distances. When, however, particular diseases occur in the nursery area it may of course be advantageous to raise the seedlings outside the affected area in order to initiate new plantings with disease-free seedling materials.
Land gradient (steepness of the land)
It is desirable to have the nursery on a level ground with good drainage. This will reduce the cost of establishing the nursery considerably. If the nursery is to be located on a sloping land, soil conservation measures are required, such as constructing terraces across the slope to conserve soil and moisture.
Favourable soil conditions (good drainage, absence of toxicity, fertile, etc.) are indispensable for the success of a nursery. When nursery plants are raised in pots, polybags, seed-boxes or trays, it may not be necessary for soils on the nursery site to be fertile. But in this case, a source of high quality soil must be as close to a nursery site as possible in order to lower the cost of soil transportation.
A nursery should be located where a reliable, abundant and inexpensive supply of uncontaminated water is available. Water supply could be from wells, boreholes, natural streams or irrigation channels.
Proximity to services
Nursery operations are labour intensive, therefore, it is very important that nurseries are sited in areas where a dependable and regular supply of experienced labour can be easily obtained.
The nearness of nursery sites to potential buyers is very important to commercial nurseries intending to raise seedlings for sale to growers. Such a nursery should be located as close as possible to these growers.
It is desirable to have a nursery located close to sources of inputs (equipment or tools, and consumables such as seeds, pesticides, fertilizers).
It can be advantageous to have a nursery located in an area where the services of agricultural experts (horticulturists, crop protection specialists, soil scientists, etc) can be obtained easily. Other aspects of services are the availability of good roads necessary for the transportation of supplies, seedlings and workers.