Sweden is a big forest country, but how to keep it such a green country? We had a talk with one of the country's largest forest seedling suppliers Svenska Skogsplantor. Over the years, this state owned company shifted from supplying bare root seedlings to container seedlings and developed their own environmentally friendly method of protecting their seedlings, which both contributes to stronger roots. Over the last five years in particular, they have seen the demand for their seedlings increasing in Scandinavia and to keep up with the demand, they invested in 2 new transplanting lines of TTA, that will be installed in March 2020.
Geert Maris of TTA and Niclas Noord of Svenska Skogsplantor, signing the agreement.
Seedlings all over Sweden
With 5 nurseries, spread from the south up to the north of Sweden, on total acreage of 80 ha (including greenhouses, holding areas and production buildings) Svenska Skogsplantor grows all kinds of seedlings for forests in Sweden - but also for other countries in Scandinavia - for over 60 years. Over the years, they have become the largest forest seedling supplier in the country. "In total in Sweden, on average per year, 350 to 380 seedlings are needed by forest owners and Svenska Skogsplantor produces 140 million seedlings a year", explains Niclas Noord, Vice President Technology in the country.
The most common tree species in Sweden are spruce, forest pine and birch, which together make up more than 90% of the stand. But the distribution of trees in Sweden seems a bit different. "Roughly speaking, in the north, the dominant species is pine, while in the south, spruce is more common. There are also more deciduous trees, especially birch and aspen, mixed forests, but more broadly alder, gray alder, rowan, oak, elm and ash."
Svenska Skogsplantor grows everything from seed. In the past, they grew mainly bare root seedlings, but since the mid 80's they gradually shifted towards container production. "Then, it started. More and more advantages of the container based production were recognized. "It not only enables us to create seedlings with stronger roots, it also makes production more efficient as we need less greenhouse acreage." And this is beneficial as the demand for their products is increasing."
Environmentally friendly protection
A reason for the increasing demand is their environmentally friendly way of protecting their seedlings against the large pine weevil, which causes serious harm to the forest industry. "The young, sensitive coniferous seedlings are attacked by this insect and in the past, we used chemicals to protect our seedlings. However, the ambition has always been to reduce the use of chemical and that’s why we decided to find another, more environmentally friendly way of protecting them" About 10 years ago, they introduced Connifex. Its protection consists of a protective sand layer which adheres to the seedling, preventing the large pine weevil from gnawing at it. "The seedlings pass through three treatment stations; gluing, then sanding, followed by drying." See the video above for a more detailed explanation.
In order to meet the increasing demand, Svenska Skogsplantor recently decided to add 2 transplanting machines of TTA. "We installed already 4 transplanting machines of TTA in our nurseries five years ago and we are satisfied with the quality and the increase of production. As we are limited in time, regarding transplanting, this is the only option to increase productivity without expanding the greenhouse." With these 2 extra lines, they will nearly double their production. "Currently, we can grow 14 million seedlings in this greenhouse - where currently two machines are running - and with the addition of the two transplanting machines, production will go to 26 million seedlings." The machines are planned to be installed beginning of March 2020.