Designed especially for growing forestry species, the investment at the Whitchurch site will help to secure the future supply of high-quality trees for the industry.
The facility allows seeds to be sown directly into trays, with germination in a controlled environment helping to improve growth, efficiency and resilience in seedlings.
Utilising the latest technology, the miniplug facility will allow a million seeds to be sown every two days, with a total capacity of 30 million seedlings. Customers will be able to purchase the first seedlings, in just over a year’s time.
Maelor will use the new facility to trial different methods of irrigation, as well as the application of fertilisers and fungicides, for a more sustainable method of growing. The state-of-the-art structure will also harvest water from the roof of the building to reduce the amount of water required from other sources.
As part of BSW Group’s ongoing commitment to investment into sustainability and development of trees species suitable for the UK’s changing climate, plans are also in place to use the facility to cultivate alternative tree species that will be available to customers.
Mark O’Neill, operations director at Maelor, said: “The new investment by BSW Group into Maelor will strengthen both our operational output and our ability to lead the sector on innovation of new tree species.
“Old methods are no longer the most environmentally friendly, and do not necessarily provide consistent quality. We’re already seeing significant benefits to the new miniplug facility, including the ability to optimise temperature and water usage and improve the grading of the crop.
“Improving our ability to sow 30 million seeds a year means we’re able to service our customers and the sector more efficiently, helping to meet targets such as increasing forest coverage to 19 per cent by 2050.”