filling pots by hand Pot-filling machine in use

Pot-filling Machines Save Time

By Marcia Miquelon, Outreach Specialist
UW Madison Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project


Press release | Tip sheet


“It definitely made everything faster.” said Nancy Nedvik of the Flower Factory, in Stoughton WI about her pot-filling machine. Also, “the crew liked it,” she added, “at the end of the day they weren’t as tired. We think about fatigue.”

For growers such as Nedvik who pot more than 20,000 plants per year, buying a pot-filling machine makes good economic sense. The machines speed the work and lessen worker fatigue. Soil drops from a hopper down into the pots as workers manually set the plants. Pot-filling machines greatly reduce labor hours because they eliminate the need for workers to scoop soil into pots. Nedvik reported saving over 1,100 labor hours in the first year after they switched from a hand-filling procedure to a pot-filling machine.

“There has been a lot more interest in smaller-scale potting machines,” comments Mike Kanczak, whose company, Agrinomix, imports the small-scale C-07 pot filler from Calzavara in Italy. He notes “pot-filling equipment can improve consistency and quality by always providing the same standard for each pot filled. The improvement in consistency and quality, along with the savings in labor can justify the investment.”

While pot-filling machines require a $6,000-$16,000 investment, the savings in labor costs can pay for the machine in as little as a year and a half for a grower who pots more than 50,000 plants per year. A grower who pots at least 20,000 plants per year can expect to recoup the cost of the machine in a little more than four years.

The payback period is even shorter when worker health and safety is taken into account. Filling pots by hand causes repetitive strain on joints and muscles as workers may spend hours scooping soil each day. Repeated use can lead to chronic injuries, time off work, and increased medical costs. Pot-filling machines eliminate the need to lift soil by hand and reduce the amount of time the task takes to complete, thereby reducing the risk for injuries caused by repetitive overstrain.

There are several different types and sizes of pot-filling machines on the market. Each is geared for slightly different needs, so choose one that meets your needs and situation. A tip sheet called “Pot filling machine saves time” at the Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project’s website (bse.wisc.edu/hfhp/) describes several types and where to get them.

For more information about standard containers and other work efficiency tools, contact the Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits project at the University of Wisconsin, Madison: (608) 262-1054, or visit their web site at http://bse.wisc.edu/hfhp/.

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